What Are These Itchy Red Spots?

Have you spend all morning outside pulling garlic mustard only to discover mysterious itch red spots on your arm (or hand, or leg, or ankles, or fingers…) the next day?  What a bummer… and what are they?  I’m not a doctor and you should probably consult something other than this blog to diagnose your situation.  However, here are my thoughts on what it could be!

Poison Ivy

Poison ivy rash by Vilseskogen

Poison Ivy is VERY itchy.  It usually appears between 8 and 48 hours after exposure and varies from little red bumps to giant oozing blisters.  It will usually clear up with or without treatment between 9 days and 3 weeks, but if you aren’t providing some type of relief for the itch it might be the longest 3 weeks of your life!

You can mostly avoid getting poison ivy by avoiding the plant.  Remember “Leaves of 3, let it be!”  Avoiding the plant is easier said than done though as the plant looks different throughout the season.  The oils can be transferred from the plant to your clothes and shoes so be sure to wash those well if you think that is a possibility.


Stinging nettle rash by Li’l Wolf

Stinging Nettle

You usually know when you’ve been exposed to stinging nettle as it begins to sting instantly as if you are being bitten my a thousand little ants.  It leaves small bumps that continue to itch for several days.  The stinging/itching from will generally clear up within a couple of days.


Contact Dermatitis

You could be extra sensitive or allergic to many of the plants out there.  A couple of common causes are ragweed and dame’s rocket.

OR maybe it’s not a reaction to a plant at all, but bites or stings from an insect!

Mosquito Bites

Mosquito bites by Servasbemal

We are safe from mosquito until temperatures are consistently over 50 degrees… which means they are out already!  The itchy spots from mosquitoes can show up almost immediately and can last up to a week.


Photograph taken by Mark A. Wilson (Department of Geology, The College of Wooster)

We are safe from these guys for a little bit longer.  However, once ground temperatures get up to 60 degrees, we also have chiggers to think about.  These guys are tiny so you won’t see them, but you will know they’ve been there because they leave itchy spots that grow into welts and can look like pimples.

Whatever caused your itchy bumps, I hope you find relief soon!  Also, if you need to see a doctor, do so.  Please don’t use this post as a substitute for proper medical care!


4 thoughts on “What Are These Itchy Red Spots?

  1. If it is stinging nettle, look for dock – a broad dark green leafed low plant. It often grows close to clumps of stinging nettle. Pick a leaf and bruise it and then rub on the itchy area. Usually takes care of it.

  2. i think i have stinging nettle but ive had these bumbs for almost a month now and they have yet to go away. can some plz help me?

  3. these red spots might be a result of perspiration due to high temperature and at the most prone parts like arm pits and knee pit ! they are itchy, sore and red too

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