A red spot can appear on the nose for a variety of reasons. Red spots on the nose are not usually a cause for concern, typically healing on their own. However, in some cases, it could be a sign of something more serious, such as skin cancer.

Some red spots may also be a symptom of another underlying medical condition.

This article looks at the potential causes, some treatment options, and when to see a doctor.

Some possible causes of a red spot on the nose include:

Acne

The skin of the nose contains a large concentration of sebaceous, or oil-producing, glands. This makes the skin more vulnerable to clogged pores and a buildup of bacteria that causes blemishes.

Acne blemishes tend to be red and irritated, sometimes with a white center of pus inside. A person can also experience mild swelling around the pore.

People should try to refrain from picking or squeezing the pimples.

Freckles or moles

Freckles are slightly different to moles.

Freckles are small spots on the skin that develop as a result of excess melanin, or skin pigment.

Some people are born with freckles, while others develop them due to repeated sun exposure. They can appear red to light brown and enlarge to become more noticeable with repeated sun exposure.

Moles, on the other hand, are small skin lesions that are usually brown and round or oval-shaped.

Moles also have blood vessels to them, while freckles are simply a collection of excess pigment. Moles also have the potential to turn into cancerous cells. Both moles and freckles can have a scaly or uneven texture to them.

It can be difficult to tell the difference between a freckle and a mole. A dermatologist can examine a person’s nose if the person is unsure whether the bump on their nose is a freckle or a mole.

Skin cancer

Skin cancers can develop on the nose, causing a red bump or scaly patch to appear. There are different types of skin cancer, including:

  • Melanoma: One of the deadliest skin cancer types, melanomas are usually brown or black. However, they may also have red tones, as well as pink, white, or blue. They will usually start as a mole and change in size, shape, or color over time.
  • Basal cell carcinoma: Basal cell carcinomas commonly grow on the face. They may cause red skin patches or bumps that are sometimes itchy. Sometimes, they may appear sore-like but will not heal well and do not go away over time.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma: Squamous cell carcinomas tend to grow on areas exposed to the sun, such as the face. They will often take on a wart-like appearance and cause rough, scaly skin patches. Sometimes, these may crust or bleed.

If a person suspects that they may have a cancerous growth on their skin, they should see their dermatologist as quickly as possible. A dermatologist may perform a biopsy (skin sample) to determine whether or not the cells are cancerous.

Spider angioma

Spider angioma is a type of lesion with a spider-like appearance. The lesion resembles a “body” that has a central red area with small blood vessels radiating out from it that look like a spider’s legs.

Spider angiomas commonly occur on the nose, as well as on the cheek. In some people, they indicate an underlying medical condition, including:

However, not all people with a spider angioma have an underlying condition. Pregnant women and those who are severely malnourished are also at greater risk of developing spider angiomas.

These are usually painless.

Systemic lupus erythematosus

Systemic lupus erythematosus, or lupus, is an autoimmune condition that causes a person’s body to attack healthy cells. An estimated 66% of people with lupus will develop a skin condition, according to the Lupus Foundation of America.

A telltale symptom of the condition is a “butterfly rash” that spreads over the bridge of the nose to both cheeks, closely resembling a butterfly. The rash tends to worsen when a person is out in the sun.

Rosacea

Rosacea is a skin condition that causes red, irregular bumps to develop on the nose and cheeks.

There are different types of rosacea. Some can cause bumps, while others may include “breakouts” that cause acne pimples with diffuse redness.

Rosacea can make a person look as though they are constantly blushing. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, an estimated 14 million people in the United States have rosacea.

Actinic keratosis

Actinic keratosis is a precancerous skin condition that can result from excessive ultraviolet exposure. The condition causes small dry or scaly patches of skin that may be red, pink, tan, or white.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, an estimated 5–10% of actinic keratosis lesions turn into skin cancer.

Treatments for a red spot on the nose will vary according to the underlying cause. The sections below list some treatment options by cause.

Acne

Treatments that reduce oil and acne-causing bacteria can help clear the pimple and prevent it from reoccurring. Examples of these treatments include benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid.

Freckles or moles

Moles and freckles do not usually require treatment. However, they can indicate that a person may need to limit their sun exposure.

People should always apply sunscreen before going outdoors to avoid the further development of skin cell changes.

Skin cancer or precancerous lesions

If a doctor detects a skin cancer or precancerous lesion, they are likely to recommend surgical removal.

Alternatively, they may prescribe topical medications that will destroy the cells and reduce their appearance.

Spider angioma

Sometimes, if a doctor treats the underlying cause of spider angioma, the symptom may improve. A doctor can also use a special pulsed dye laser to destroy the small blood vessels that give the spider angioma its red appearance.

Rosacea

Dermatologists can treat rosacea using medications such as antibiotics and topical treatments. They may also advise a person to avoid common rosacea triggers, such as eating spicy foods and getting too hot.

A person should see their doctor if they have a red spot on their nose that will not heal or appears to heal but then comes back. Lesions that bleed or a mole that is changing in size and shape may also be causes for concern.

If a person is worried, they can talk to their dermatologist. A dermatologist can examine a person’s skin and perform a biopsy, if needed, to determine the potential cause.

Red spots on the nose are not usually a cause for concern. For example, they may stem from common conditions such as acne and skin freckles.

However, if a person notices any changes to a mole or skin lesion, they should talk to their dermatologist to find out if the spot could be something more serious.