Unusual Red Spots On Your Skin?

As I age, I notice little red spots, rather like blood blisters on my trunk, sometimes on my breasts, stomach and hips. Are they caused by clothing rubbing a certain area? It’s not a rash, just occasional little bumps that resemble little moles filled with blood.

– August 3, 2009

From your description, the red spots sound like angiomas, which are sometimes called cherry angiomas. Red spots on skin that turn out to be angiomas are harmless growths that tend to occur more frequently as you get older. They usually run in families and are named for their bright, red color (although some are purplish). These small red dots on skin are usually smooth, about the size of a pinhead and are overgrowths of blood vessels. They typically appear on the trunk, although you may see them on the neck, face, arms and legs. Although most angiomas are very small, they can grow to as much as 1/4 inch across and assume a mushroom-like look. We don’t know the cause.

I checked with Chicago dermatologist Carolyn Jacobs, M.D., about treatments for red spots on skin. Since they’re not a threat to health, there is no reason to remove them unless you don’t like their appearance. In that case, Dr. Jacobs said your dermatologist can zap them away with an electric needle or a laser. Removal usually doesn’t leave a scar. Remember that cosmetic procedures aren’t covered by insurance, so if you want your angiomas removed, you’ll have to pay for the procedure out of pocket.
In any event, these little growths are nothing to worry about. But be sure to see your dermatologist if you notice a change in any growth, including an angioma.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

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