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

A female checking her kneeShare on Pinterest
Alessio Bogani/Stocksy United

In most instances, there’s no need to panic if you see red bumps on your legs, but red bumps can be itchy and annoying.

Read on to learn more about each cause, how to recognize the symptoms, and how to treat the bumps.

The chart below summarizes some of the most common causes of red bumps on your legs.

If the red bumps:Then they may be:
don’t 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.

Small red or dark bumps that resemble goosebumps on the fleshier areas of your thighs and arms, which don’t itch or itch very little, maybe keratosis pilaris.

Keratosis pilaris is a common condition that affects about 50–80% of adolescents and 40% of adults.

These bumps may appear a few shades darker than your skin tone if you have Black or Brown skin.

Learn more about treatment for keratosis pilaris.

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

Folliculitis results in small red bumps or pimples on the skin, which you may know as “razor burn” or “razor rash.” The bumps 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 chance of getting this condition.

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

Learn more about treatment for folliculitis.

If the red spots combine in patches and itch, you may have eczema. Eczema 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 due to various triggers such as cosmetics, soaps, temperature, and even stress.

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

Learn more about treatment for eczema.

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 their common lack of pigment, hives on darker skin can be more difficult to identify.

Hives can be triggered by things such as pollen or insect bites and even some medications. They can be linked to viral or bacterial infections as well as autoimmune diseases.

Hives are generally not serious unless accompanied by a more systemic allergic reaction. Seek urgent medical attention if you experience symptoms of anaphylaxis.

Learn more about treatment for hives.

Your little red bumps may be bug bites, especially if they’re very itchy. Insect bites on darker skin may appear purple or dark brown.

Common culprits in the insect kingdom include:

Learn more about how to treat insect bites.

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 red or pink spots that may also have a scale-like quality. Spots are likely to occur on your trunk and limbs.

Guttate psoriasis is the second most common type of psoriasis, following plaque psoriasis. Guttate psoriasis may cause hundreds of spots to occur at one time.

Triggers or risk factors for guttate psoriasis include tonsillitis, strep throat, skin injury, stress, and some medications.

Learn more about treatment for psoriasis.

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, consistent exposure to the sun.

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)

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.

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.” Bowen’s disease may appear as a red scaly patch, which may ooze, crust over, or itch.

Learn more about treatment for skin cancer.

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.

There are many types of vasculitis, most of which are rare. Some of the types, including hypersensitivity vasculitis and Kawasaki disease, have red, purple, or dark bumps as a symptom.

What STD causes bumps on thighs?

You can get bumps on your thighs and other areas of your skin from molluscum contagiosum, which spreads by skin-to-skin contact, including during sex.

How do I get rid of red pimple-like bumps on my legs?

If you have an outbreak of red bumps on your legs, you’ll want to get rid of 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.
  • Apple cider vinegar and white vinegar: When applied topically, either type of vinegar can help to soothe itchy skin.
  • Calamine lotion or menthol: These lotions 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.

That said, it’s a good idea to see a doctor like a dermatologist to identify the cause and get medical treatment, if you need it.

What are the little red bumps on my legs that look like pimples?

If you’ve recently shaved your legs, red pimples on your leg may indicate razor burn, which is a form of folliculitis.

What rash starts on the legs?

Different conditions present as a rash that begins on the legs. These conditions include allergies, insect bites, and skin diseases such as psoriasis or eczema.

What does a stress rash look like on the legs?

Eczema or psoriasis can be triggered by stress. Both conditions can present as patches that may be red, purple, dark brown, or gray.

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

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