Red spots on the legs - warning sign or harmless?


Red spots on the legs can be an indication of a variety of diseases, which can range from completely harmless in nature to dangerous clinical pictures.

The most common causes of red spots on the legs include all kinds of rashes, venous insufficiency, and inflammation of the blood vessels (Vasculitis).


A physical exam by a doctor is required to find out if the red spots on the legs need treatment.

The exact survey of the medical history (anamnese) is important for the correct diagnosis. Above all, factors such as the time at which the red spots appear, the exact location and possible accompanying symptoms such as severe itching, nausea, fever, breathing difficulties or pain play a role.

A rash, which can result in many different types and types of red spots on the legs, is most commonly caused by an allergic reaction.
For example, care or cosmetic products (e.g. suncream), wearing certain clothes or insect bites can cause an allergic rash on the legs with red spots.
If the trigger for the allergic rash is unknown, a doctor should be seen as the rash may also be an indication of an autoimmune disorder, skin disease, or vascular inflammation.

If the stain on the leg has a typical circular ring shape that expands over the course of the day, a tick bite may be the trigger. In this case, a doctor should also be consulted immediately, as the dangerous Lyme disease must be excluded or treated.

Figure red spots on the legs

Figure red spots on the legs: causes and examples

Red spots on the legs
I - outside right leg
II - right leg from behind

  1. Buttocks -
    Gluteal region
  2. Thigh - Femur
  3. knee
  4. Lower leg - Crus
  5. Foot - Pes
  6. Hip joint -
    Articulatio coxae
  7. Femur
  8. Knee joint -
    Articulatio genus
  9. Calf community -
    Corpus fibulae
  10. Heel bone -
    Causes of Red Spots
    on the legs:

    A. - Rashes
    (Care or cosmetic products,
    Clothing, insect bites)
    B - venous insufficiency
    (Failure of the venous valves)
    C - inflammation of the blood vessels
    (Vasculitis) - also numbness
    in the legs
    D. - Tick ​​bite
    E - Red spots in children
    (Chickenpox, three-day fever,
    Rubella, scarlet fever, measles)
    F - spider veins and varicose veins
    G - hives (Urticaria)
    H - after a long hike
    or after a long run
    (e.g. marathon)

You can find an overview of all Dr-Gumpert images at: medical illustrations


Red spots on the legs can have numerous causes. The following are the most common and dangerous ones.

Venous insufficiency

Around three to ten percent of all adults in Germany suffer from the venous disease "Venous insufficiency". There is a weakening of the vascular system, especially in the legs, because there so-called venous valves ensure that the blood can flow to the heart and not to "below“Can flow back.

In venous insufficiency, these venous valves fail and the backflow of blood is not prevented.

The disease manifests itself by water retention on the ankles and is accompanied by red spots on the lower legs, which represent reactions of the veins and the skin to the disease.

To support the veins, compression stockings are usually worn in the therapy of venous insufficiency.

For more information, see Chronic venous insufficiency.


Inflammation of the blood vessels becomes medical Vasculitis called. Vasculitis can occur anywhere on the body, regardless of where the veins are located or how large they are. Depending on which blood vessels are affected by the inflammation, a variety of symptoms can arise.

The symptoms of vasculitis result from the fact that the affected blood vessels can no longer supply certain organs with sufficient blood.

Making the diagnosis of vasculitis is very difficult in many cases because the disease is very complex and varied. Red spots or spots on the legs can be a first and decisive indication of such an inflammation of the blood vessels.
In addition, there are accompanying symptoms such as severe weight loss, general malaise, Joint and muscle pain, Vision deterioration or Numbness in the legs.

If vasculitis is suspected, a doctor should be consulted immediately and appropriate therapy initiated, as the disease can lead to organ failure or even death, depending on the organs affected.

Spider veins and varicose veins

The most common venous diseases include broom travel and varicose veins.

Spider veins are small blood vessels that run like a network under the skin and become visible as reddish-bluish spots on the legs. Due to a disturbed blood flow and a weakening of the connective tissue, the spider veins are usually harmless and painless.
About 50 percent of women and 25 percent of men in Germany suffer from the "crooked veins“ (medically varices).

Varicose veins represent a weak vein that affects the superficial leg veins and increases the risk of blood clots (Thrombosis) increase. Red spots on the legs can be the first signs of varicose veins, plus feelings of tension, night cramps in the calves or swollen lower legs and ankles.

The therapy consists of reducing body weight and exercising.

Read about this too Spider veins or Varicose veins.

Venous thrombosis

Thrombosis of the deep veins in the leg can begin without symptoms. In the course of this, there is aching pain that disappears when lying down. The affected leg is often overheated and swollen, and the skin can be stretched and reddish in color.

Especially at a more advanced stage, red dot-like spots appear on the legs, which are caused by spontaneous bleeding and later look like bruises (Hematomas) turn yellow and greenish.

A venous thrombosis causes serious circulatory disorders, which is why prompt treatment is necessary.
The therapy usually takes place with the help of compression stockings, medication and exercise therapy. A pulmonary embolism represents the greatest danger in a venous thrombosis, as the blood clot can be carried out of the leg into a pulmonary blood vessel, where it can lead to serious and dangerous breathing difficulties, in some cases even death.

You can find detailed information below Thrombosis.

Circulatory disorder

Red spots on the legs can also be for one Circulatory disorder speak. This typically occurs to severe pain in the legs during stress, which force the person affected to stop and rest after a certain distance (so-called "intermittent claudication").

The circulatory disorder leads to cramping painbecause muscles, skin and tendons are no longer adequately supplied with blood, oxygen and nutrients.

Such circulatory disorders occur Sedentary lifestyle, Obesity and especially at Smokers on.
The therapy for circulatory disorders in the legs is derived from these causes: The focus is on Movement therapies (Regular walking, cycling, jogging and swimming), Weight loss and Abstinence from nicotine.
If the disease is more advanced, a surgical intervention restore blood circulation to the legs.

Erythema nodosum

The Erythema nodusum is also known as a knot rose. This designation reveals the appearance of the skin appearance: Red nodules develop. The color can also vary and change. Often these areas of the skin are tender and painful.

The nodular rose is an acute inflammation of the subcutaneous fatty tissue. It often occurs on the lower legs, knees, and ankles. It is less common to see a knot rose on the buttocks or arms.

Often the nodular rose shows up in the context of other diseases. For example, this is found in 30% of patients Sarcoid. In addition, a nodular rose can develop with various infections or inflammatory bowel diseases.

Red spots on the legs after shaving

Red spots may appear on the skin after shaving your legs. These are initially harmless. However, they can become infected and cause unsightly shave bumps. In order to differentiate whether the red spots on the skin of the legs were caused by shaving or for other reasons, the legs should not be shaved for a few days to weeks.

Other causes should also be taken into account to rule it out, such as an intolerance to nylon tights. In order to prevent red spots on the legs after shaving, compatible shaving foam and good razor blades should be used.

You might also be interested in: Skin itches after shaving

Red spots on the legs after standing for a long time

If red spots appear on the skin of the legs after standing for a long time, these may indicate a coagulation disorder. The red spots are caused by bleeding the size of a pinhead from the blood capillaries in the skin. They are also known in technical jargon as Petechiae designated. A medical examination is recommended.


During pregnancy, red spots on the legs can indicate a specific rash that usually occurs in the second half of pregnancy. This is known by the abbreviation PUPP, which in English for pruritic urticarial papules and plaques pregnancy and in German for pruriginous and urticarial papules and plaques stands. This means that there are often itchy, red, raised spots and blotchy areas of the skin. The causes are so far unknown.

The pregnancy and the unborn child are not endangered. Nevertheless, a doctor should be consulted to rule out other causes.

Shaking mixtures and weak cream-based steroids are usually recommended for the treatment of PUPP.

Read more about this under Rash in pregnancy.

More symptoms

Red spots on the legs with itching

Itchy, red spots on your legs can have a variety of causes. Especially Fungal skin diseases, Neurodermatitis and allergic reaction For example, certain foods, medicines, exposure to the sun or insect bites lead to a rash that is itchy.

A widespread hypersensitivity reaction of the skin is the so-called Hives (Urticaria). This leads to red, blotchy skin redness, wheals and severe itching.

Hives can be caused by a variety of triggers, such as medication, food, heat, cold, or pressure.

Itching occurs when the body releases large amounts of messenger substances such as histamine due to a stimulus. The cause of red spots on the legs that itch should be clarified by a doctor.

Antipruritic medication and creams can help alleviate the symptoms, but the underlying disease should also be treated if possible.
It is important to be natural Not yielding to the need to scratch becomes. Scratching can make itching worse. In addition, it can lead to small injuries to the skin, which represent entry portals for pathogens, whereby Infections can be caused.

Red spots on the legs without itching

If red spots are visible on the legs without accompanying itching, an allergic cause can be ruled out as far as possible. Sun allergies are often associated with itching, but sometimes a non-itchy sun allergy can also occur. The exact reason why it is sometimes itchy and sometimes not is unknown.
Overheating or overheating or local irritation are more likely and should be clarified more precisely. Local irritation is understood to mean both heat and cold as well as mechanical irritation (friction from clothing, etc.) that affect the skin of the legs and which can lead to the formation of red spots.

Red spots on the legs with joint pain

The combination of red spots on the skin and accompanying Joint pain is highly suspicious and should be examined promptly by an infectiologist or rheumatologist. Reddening of the skin and joint pain always indicate one inflammatory rheumatic disease down.

Both Rheumatic diseases there is an excessive reaction of the body to its own tissue. The immune system does not recognize the body's own tissue as its own and begins to fight it. This is done through a Inflammatory responseat which it too Pain, swelling, and redness can come. The skin may become red and itchy, but not itchy either. Joints can swell and hurt, which means that their movement is restricted. If left untreated, an anatomical change in the joints can occur, which means that the usual movement can only be carried out to a limited extent even without a rheumatic attack.

In the event of a combination of reddening of the skin and joint pain, a physical examination should also always be carried out Blood count be made. In the case of a rheumatic disease that leads to the specified complaints, would be Inflammation values (CRP, leukocyte sedimentation rate) elevated. The so-called rheumatoid factor can also often be detected as increased.
These examinations are carried out by the family doctor; if the values ​​are abnormal, he will be referred to a specialist in rheumatology, who will again specifically determine further rheumatoid-specific blood values.

In addition to the rheumatism-related causes, the combination of red spots and joint pain can also always occur due to infection be. In most cases you will not be able to detect the exact pathogen. If rheumatism values ​​are normal, an infection-related cause is usually a diagnosis of exclusion. It is also important here other accompanying symptoms, such as. Taking into account fever, weight loss, rapid fatigue and deterioration in performance, which also suggest an infection-related cause.
If an infection is suspected, treatment would initially only be symptomatic. A antibiotic treatment would initially be carried out cautiously.

In the case of a rheumatism-related cause, anti-inflammatory drugs as well as drugs that reduce the immune system can be treated. This group of drugs includes the Cortisone, which can be taken for several days to weeks in the event of an acute rheumatic attack (Cortisone in joint diseases).
Today there are also newer drugs, the so-called Biologicals, prevailed in the treatment of rheumatism. Before any rheumatological treatment should be started, the diagnosis must be proven.

Whatever the cause of the discomfort can be symptomatic cooling measureshow to treat joint pain like ice packs or cooling wipes. Furthermore, especially if the red spots on the leg itch, an attempt at treatment with the antiallergic agent can be Fenistyle be tried.

Red spots on legs and arms

A rash that shows up with red spots on multiple parts of the body can have a variety of causes. The appearance of a rash on the arms and legs at the same time can, for example, indicate an allergic reaction, neurodermatitis, hives, childhood diseases or much more.

The most common accompanying symptom is itching, but pain and other symptoms such as fever, nausea or difficulty breathing can also provide clues as to the possible cause of the red spots on the arms and legs.

The exact location and appearance of the rash can also be used to draw conclusions about the possible trigger.

A doctor should be consulted if harmless triggers for the red spots can be ruled out, if they appear suddenly and violently, if additional symptoms arise, or if a serious illness is suspected.

Read more on this topic at: Red spots on the arms

Red spots on the legs after showering

If red spots appear on your legs after a shower, it is usually one hypersensitive, allergic reaction on certain substances the cause.
Harmless substances from cleaning and care products can lead to reddened skin and itchy rashes on the legs. Skin irritation can occur, especially in connection with hot water.

One should note that the skin is one natural acid mantle that can be destroyed by soaps and shampoos and make the skin more vulnerable and vulnerable. For this reason, only personal care products with a neutral pH (about 5.5) be used.

If the red spots appear after showering, the legs can be cared for with suitable creams. Are ideal water-based emulsions or lotionsthat cool the skin and are well absorbed by it. Skin tolerance should also be considered here.

Perfumes and preservatives in particular can promote and trigger allergic reactions.

That too Shave Taking a shower can cause red spots on your legs as the skin becomes irritated when you shave. Read more about this at: Skin itches after shaving

Red spots on the legs after a visit to the sauna

After a sauna session, some areas of the body's skin become red and indicate overheating in this area. At these points the body has not been able to counteract the heat from the sauna. The skin turns red because the body widens the blood vessels at this point so that as much blood as possible is transported to the overheated area for cooling.
Red spots usually appear on the face, but can also occur on the legs or arms.

Even if the heat is too great and the body sweats a lot, it can happen that evaporation is not possible due to the high temperature in the sauna. The next and last possibility to cool the body is to dilate the blood vessels, which is noticed by reddening of the skin. Reddening of the skin during and after the sauna is normal, but accompanying general symptoms such as dizziness, nausea and headaches should be observed in particular and the stay in the sauna should be ended if necessary.

After leaving the sauna, there may also be a compensatory influx of blood, i.e. it may be that there were no red spots while visiting the sauna, but these suddenly appear heavily on the body and legs after leaving the sauna. Here, too, it is about cooling measures of the body

Red spots on the legs from heat

If reddish spots form on the legs after or during extreme heat, this may be due to a build-up of heat. Normally, the body tries to cool the body down by producing an even sweat when the heat builds up too high and to achieve a constant body temperature.
If it does not succeed in this for various reasons, small heat islands can develop. These islands are small, demarcated areas of the body in which the temperature is higher than in the surrounding areas. The skin in the overheated area turns red because the body widens the blood vessels in this area in order to bring as much "cooling" blood as possible into the overheated area. Viewed from a little further, this results in clearly visible red spots.

The heat build-up can be counteracted by going to a cooler area relatively quickly after the skin reaction has occurred or by cooling down the reddened skin with cooling compresses.

Read more on the subject at: Rash from heat

Red spots on the legs after a hike

At heavy physical exertion you may develop a rash on your legs with red spots. Typically, such a rash appears after a long hike or run (e.g. marathon).

The red spots on the legs that appear after such exposure are called Exercise-Induced Purpura or "exercice-induced vasculitis" designated.

The red spots after exercise are usually painless and occur mainly on the lower legs and the red spots appear at ankle level.
However, the thigh can also be affected and the red spots can be accompanied by itching or sensitivity disorders.

The exact cause of this rash after a long hike is not known. It is believed to be a Dysregulation of the blood vessels acts that react inappropriately to the temperature changes during exercise.

The exercise-dependent purpura is initially through cooling and Elevation of the legs treated. The red spots on the legs usually go away on their own within a few days without leaving any skin discolouration.

If you are prone to such skin reactions, it should be a preventative measure for long hikes or endurance runs Compression stockings be worn.

Red spots on the legs in children

The typical teething problems can almost all be accompanied by red spots on the legs. For example, chickenpox has red blisters that are very itchy and crust over the course of the disease.

In so-called three-day fever, a rash occurs after the end of the fever phase, which is mostly localized on the neck and trunk, but can also extend to the skin on the legs.

The typical rubella rash begins on the skin behind the ears and spreads from there over the whole body, so that the trunk, arms and legs become the typical red (partly sublime) Stains is coming.

In scarlet fever, in addition to the typical throat and swallowing problems, there is also a fine-spotted rash that usually begins in the legs and spreads rapidly over the body. After about three weeks, the affected skin starts peeling.

You can find more information on this topic at: Scarlet fever rash

The rubella infection initially resembles a cold, later it comes to the characteristic ring-shaped, red and itchy skin rash, usually initially on the cheeks and head area.
As the disease progresses, the rubella spreads over the trunk and the red spots can also appear on the legs.

In addition to the flu-like symptoms of fever, cough and runny nose, measles usually lead to purple to brown spots that merge into one another. The spots in measles usually start behind the ears and then spread over the body and legs. Itching like chickenpox does not usually develop.

Read more on the topic: Rash in children

Red spots on the legs from sunlight

Red spots on the legs always indicate irritation to the skin. This can be either allergic or inflammatory, or simply caused by a local irritation. After exposure to the sun, sunburn can also cause reddening of the skin on the legs. However, if the legs are sunburned, extensive reddening is more likely than blotchy.

Red spots on the legs after exposure to the sun are more indicative of a sun allergy. Shortly after the first exposure to the sun, red spots can develop, which can also be itchy. The most important measure is then to avoid the sun. It can also be enough to put a towel or something else that provides shade over your legs.
If the red spots on the leg are actually a sun allergy, calcium should be taken as a preventive measure. This can take the form of effervescent tablets and in many cases counteracts the formation of red spots when exposed to sunlight.

Read more about this under: Rash from sun and Skin itches after sunburn

Red spots from sunlight in the child

If red spots appear on the child's legs after or during exposure to the sun, this can be the first sign of sunburn. Although sunburns are usually more extensive, it is also more common that sunscreen has already been applied to the skin and some free areas have then been burned by the sun, which can lead to a not uncommon blotchy appearance on the legs.

Furthermore, the skin can be irritated by the sun (preliminary stage of sunburn), which would also result in blotchy skin changes. Sunlight allergies can also cause red spots on the legs.

The child should first get out of the sun to see whether the red spots remain on their legs or go away. Furthermore, depending on the symptoms, cooling compresses should be applied. Here you can take compresses soaked in cold water and place them on the reddish skin areas of the leg. If it is a sun allergy, calcium supplements can be taken preventively.

Sun for toddlers

Small children should only be exposed to strong sunlight, protected from light. Since the skin is still relatively unprotected, a severe sunburn enter quickly.
Red spots on the toddler's legs that appear after exposure to the sun indicate one Skin irritation or on one Allergy to sunlight down. Sometimes the red spots can also be very itchy or burn.
The child should get out of the sun as soon as possible so that one can see whether the red spots actually have something to do with the sun exposure.

Sun with the baby

A baby's skin is still very unprotected and tender and very susceptible to all sorts of environmental irritation. Even after exposure to sunlight, reddish spots can appear on the baby's legs. This can either be a rather harmless irritation of the skin caused by the sunlight (a preliminary stage of sunburn) or a strong overheating of the legs from the sun. In the case of overheating, the body would try to widen the blood vessels in order to transport as much blood as possible to the overheated area to cool down. Under certain circumstances, this can also produce reddish spots.
Sun allergies can also be behind a patchy change in the legs.

Regardless of the triggering cause, the baby must first leave the sun and be brought into the shade. Then you can see whether the reddish spots have receded and whether there is a direct connection with the solar radiation.

It is important to protect babies from exposure to the strong sun. Sun protection includes protection from covering clothing on the one hand, and protection from sunscreen adapted to sunlight, which should be spread over a large area on the skin. Although sunburn should be avoided at all ages, it is even more important to ensure that babies stay as short as possible in the strong midday sun.

Read more on the subject at: Sunburn in the baby

Further general information on this topic:

  • Red spots on the arms
  • Rash on the thigh
  • Skin changes
  • allergy