Red bumps on your legs may be caused by allergies, insect bites, and certain skin conditions. Occasionally, they may signify a more serious condition. On darker skin, such bumps may not appear red and may be harder to see.

In most instances, you shouldn’t panic if you spot red bumps on your legs. But red bumps can be itchy and annoying.

The chart below summarizes some of the most common causes of red bumps on your legs. Read on to learn more about each cause, how to recognize the symptoms, and how to treat the rash.

If the red bumps…Then it might be
do not itch or itch very littlekeratosis pilaris
go away without treatmentfolliculitis or hives
blister and ooze a clear fluideczema
turn white when you press themhives
itch a lotinsect bites or eczema
have a scaly qualityeczema or psoriasis
are accompanied by night sweats and weight lossvasculitis
are shiny and resemble open soresskin cancer

The following are images of conditions that may cause red bumps on the legs in different skin tones.

Do you have small red or dark bumps that resemble goosebumps on the fleshier areas of your thighs and arms? If they don’t itch or they itch very little, they may be keratosis pilaris.

Keratosis pilaris bumps may appear a few shades darker than your skin tone if you have black or brown skin. This is a common condition affecting approximately 50% to 80% of adolescents and 40% of adults.

It occurs when your pores are clogged with the protein keratin. Keratin is found in your skin, nails, and hair. You’re more likely to get keratosis pilaris if you have dry skin or eczema.

How it’s treated

Although the condition is harmless, you may want to talk with your doctor about using treatments such as medicated creams. Several over-the-counter (OTC) medicated creams are designed to help loosen and remove dead skin cells.

Look for products that contain ingredients such as:

Medicated creams may be especially beneficial when used with thick moisturizing creams. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for this condition, but keeping your skin hydrated and moisturized should help. In severe cases, laser therapy may be used.

Folliculitis is typically caused by an infection in the hair follicles of the scalp or on areas of the body that have been shaved. It’s mostly caused by staph bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus). Folliculitis can also be caused by inflammation from ingrown hairs, viruses, or fungi.

It results in small red bumps or pimples on the skin, which you may know as razor burn or razor rash. These may appear the shade of your skin tone or darker if you have black or brown skin.

Shaving, tight clothing, and combining heat and sweat are typical sources of folliculitis. Folliculitis can affect people of all ages, but certain factors may increase your risk. You may be at higher risk of this condition if you:

  • have a condition that negatively affects your immune system, such as diabetes or HIV and AIDS
  • use of antibiotics to treat acne
  • use certain topical medications
  • have skin that’s been damaged from hair removal techniques, such as shaving against the grain or waxing
  • frequently sit hot tubs that aren’t well-maintained or sanitary

Folliculitis can be itchy and uncomfortable. However, it isn’t serious unless it progresses to a more severe type of infection. These severe infections may include boils, carbuncles, and cellulitis.

How it’s treated

Folliculitis usually clears up on its own. If it lasts longer than 7 to 10 days or it worsens, you should see your doctor.

Antibiotics in the form of pills or creams are typically used to treat persistent or severe folliculitis that’s caused by bacteria. Viral, fungal, or parasitic folliculitis will require antiviral, antifungal, and antiparasitic medications, respectively.

If the cause is an underlying condition like HIV, a person will need to get treatment for the condition, such as antiretroviral medications.

If the red spots combine in patches and itch, you may have eczema. This can also appear dark brown, purple, or ashen gray on darker skin.

Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a common skin condition. Eczema may be dry and scaly, or it can blister and ooze a clear fluid. Eczema tends to flare up at times. Common triggers include:

The cause of eczema is not fully understood, but there are some common patterns:

  • Eczema often runs in families.
  • You have a greater likelihood of getting eczema if you or a family member has asthma or seasonal allergies.
  • Eczema is more common in urban areas with high levels of pollution and in colder climates.
  • Children born to older mothers are more likely to have the condition.

Although people of all ages can have eczema, 85% to 95% of cases begin in children under age 5. Although several studies have gotten different results, it is also clear that many children continue to have eczema when they become adults.

Like most skin conditions, eczema can become infected. Additionally, if you have eczema, avoid being around people who have cold sores or chicken pox. Exposure to the viruses that cause these conditions puts you at risk of getting eczema herpeticum, a severe, rapidly spreading infection.

How it’s treated

A number of medications are used to treat eczema, including antibiotics, antihistamines, and corticosteroids. Your doctor will help you find the medications that are most effective for you.

Regular use of non-medicated moisturizing creams and ointments is also usually recommended for the treatment and prevention of eczema flares. Your doctor will also work with you to identify and reduce your exposure to eczema triggers.

Approximately 20% of people will get hives in their lifetime. Hives, also called urticaria, are raised, itchy, red, or skin-tone welts. They turn white when you press their center. Hives can appear anywhere on the body, and people of all ages get them.

Hives are usually similar in color to your skin tone. Sometimes, they may be slightly lighter or darker, depending on what’s causing them. Because of this, hives on darker skin can be more difficult to identify.

You can get hives in response to a wide range of triggers, such as:

Hives are also associated with certain conditions, including:

Hives are generally not serious unless accompanied by a more systemic allergic reaction. Seek urgent medical attention if you have the following symptoms:

How it’s treated

Hives often go away without treatment, except in cases of an allergic reaction. Antihistamines are the most commonly used medication for the treatment of hives.

You may use prescription or OTC antihistamines for hives caused by an allergic reaction. For initial treatment, you’ll likely be recommended a non-sedating antihistamine. Examples include loratadine (Claritin), cetirizine (Zyrtec), and fexofenadine (Allegra).

If those medications don’t get rid of the hives, you’ll also add a sedating antihistamine at night. Examples include diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and the prescription medication hydroxyzine (Atarax).

In some cases, oral steroids may be prescribed. Injections of the steroid betamethasone (Celustone) might also be needed to treat hives.

If you have chronic hives, especially in cases of an undetermined cause, there are other treatments you can try, such as corticosteroids such as prednisone, immune suppressants like cyclosporine (Gengraf, Neoral, Sandimmune), H2 blockers such as cimetidine (Tagamet HB), and others.

Your little red bumps may be bug bites — especially if they itch like the devil. Insect bites on darker skin may appear purple or dark brown.

Common culprits in the insect kingdom include:

Fire ants

Fire ant bites are actually stings, which may appear as raised clusters. These raised, red bumps sometimes contain pus. They may be accompanied by welts, followed by blisters.

How it’s treated

Treatment includes a variety of antihistamines, cold compresses, and pain medication.

Oral pain medications that may provide relief include acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin). A topical pain medication that can be used is lidocaine (Solarcaine).


Mosquito bites can be hard to the touch. They can occur as solo bumps, or you may see several in a cluster. They may or may not turn red.

How it’s treated

The itch from mosquito bites can be reduced with the topical use of witch hazel or hydrocortisone cream.


Fleabites appear in multiple clusters, each with three or four red, raised bumps. There’s a lighter red circle around each bump. The bumps may bleed.

If your bites fill with pus, you should have them checked by a doctor.

How it’s treated

Hydrocortisone creams and antihistamines are usually enough to reduce the itch.


Chigger bites result in small, red, itchy bumps, each with a bright red dot in the center. They can cause intense itching.

How it’s treated

Itching may be reduced with hydrocortisone creams.


Lice bites can occur on the head, in the pubic area, or on the body. The bites look like red or pink clusters. You may see eggs along with the bumps.

How it’s treated

Reducing the lice infestation by combing out the eggs, and using topical creams designed for this purpose, will help to eliminate the bumps.

Bed bugs

Bed bug bites can look like red lines made up of dots, which may be flat or raised.

How it’s treated

The itching can be reduced with hydrocortisone creams and antihistamines.


Scabies leads to raised, red bumps, which may appear along wavy lines. The wavy lines are made by the burrowing insects.

How it’s treated

Treatment requires a scabicide cream such as permethrin (Eilimite). It kills scabies mites and their eggs.

General tips

The itching caused by most bug bites may be helped by:

  • oral or topical corticosteroids
  • a variety of OTC or prescription antihistamines, which may be taken orally or applied topically
  • ice or cool compresses
  • an application of calamine lotion

Remember that prevention, in the form of insect repellents and keeping your skin covered, is the most important step in keeping bloodthirsty critters away.

Psoriasis is a chronic condition that causes scaly red, purple, or gray patches to appear on the skin.

One form of psoriasis, guttate psoriasis, is characterized by small reddish or pinkish spots that may also have a scaly quality. Spots are likely to occur on the trunk and limbs. Guttate psoriasis is the second most common type of psoriasis, following plaque psoriasis. It may cause hundreds of spots to occur at one time.

Triggers or risk factors for guttate psoriasis include:

How it’s treated

Topical ointments, such as corticosteroids, can effectively reduce outbreaks. But if the bumps are very widespread, they may also be cumbersome to apply. Other treatments can include:

There are several different types of skin cancer. These include basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and Bowen’s disease. Skin cancer is typically caused by unprotected, chronic exposure to the sun.

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of skin cancer. BCCs are abnormal growths that form in the skin’s basal cell layer. They often appear as one small and shiny red bump, and they can look like an open sore. They may also appear as brown or glossy black bumps on darker skin.

How it’s treated

BCCs must be removed surgically.

Bowen’s disease

Bowen’s disease is an early form of skin cancer. It appears on the surface of the skin and is also referred to as squamous cell carcinoma in situ. It resembles a reddish, scaly patch, which may ooze, crust over, or itch.

In addition to sun exposure, Bowen’s disease may be caused by exposure to arsenic or human papillomavirus 16 (HPV 16). HPV 16 is the virus associated with cervical cancer.

How it’s treated

Patches caused by Bowen’s disease must also be removed surgically.

Vasculitis is a condition that causes inflammation of the blood vessels. This decrease in the flow of blood results in a wide range of symptoms, including:

There are many types of vasculitis, most of which are rare. Some of them have red skin, purple, or dark bumps as a symptom, including:

Hypersensitivity vasculitis

Hypersensitivity vasculitis is also known as allergic vasculitis. It’s marked by red spots on the skin, which often appear on the lower legs.

An outbreak may be triggered by infection or adverse reaction to medications such as antibiotics, antiseizure drugs, and gout medications.

How it’s treated

In most cases, no treatment is required. Some people may be prescribed anti-inflammatory medications or corticosteroids to help with joint pain.

Kawasaki disease

Kawasaki disease, or mucocutaneous lymph node syndrome, is most often seen in children under 5 years of age. Symptoms include skin rash, swollen tongue, red eyes, and fever. Its cause is unknown.

How it’s treated

This condition can become dangerous if not caught and treated early. Treatment usually consists of intravenous immunoglobulin.

If you have an outbreak of red bumps on your legs, you’ll want to eliminate their itch and their physical presence. There are a number of at-home remedies you can try, including:

  • Aloe vera gel: Aloe vera is known to soothe inflamed skin. You can purchase this commercially or cut open the plant and use the sticky substance inside its leaves.
  • Apple cider vinegar and white vinegar: When applied topically, either type of vinegar can help to soothe itchy skin.
  • Calamine lotion or menthol: These can be applied topically on the bumps.
  • Oatmeal: Oatmeal contains chemicals called avenanthramides that reduce itching and inflammation. They also block the action of histamines — the chemicals in your body that cause allergic reactions. Try oatmeal compresses, ointments, or bath treatments. Treatments that use colloidal oatmeal are soothing for irritated or itchy skin.

The presence of little red bumps on your legs isn’t necessarily a matter of concern. If you experience itching or discomfort, your doctor can determine the cause and recommend the best treatment.

However, skin conditions carry the risk of becoming more serious infections. It’s important to treat your rash as recommended by your doctor and keep an eye out for signs of infection, such as pain, fever, blisters, or increasing redness, streaking, and swelling around the bumps.