Causes of Red Bumps That Itch

Red bumps that itch can have several causes. According to Medline Plus, mosquito, flea and mite bites usually cause red bumps to appear on the surface of the skin 1. Folliculitis, dermatitis and allergic reactions are other causes of red bumps that itch 2. If you have unexplained red bumps that cause painful burning or itching that does not cease, contact your physician immediately.


Folliculitis is a condition that is typically caused when hair follicles inside the skin become infected 2. One of the most notable symptoms of folliculitis is the appearance of clusters of small red bumps that grow around hair follicles that cause itchiness and tenderness 2. According to the Mayo Clinic, staphylococcus aureus is one type of bacteria that can cause folliculitis 2. A fungus or virus also can cause folliculitis 2. Typically, when the follicles in the skin become damaged, they are more susceptible to invasion by outside pathogens. Common causes of follicle damage are friction from tight clothing or shaving. If you have skin conditions such as acne or dermatitis, you are at an increased risk of developing folliculitis 2. A mild case of folliculitis can abate on its own, but recurrent cases may require treatment 2. Your doctor or dermatologist can prescribe the best medication for your type of condition.

Insect Bites

Insect bites typically cause raised, red bumps to develop shortly after contact. These red bumps are due to swelling and pooling of blood. When a bug, such as a mosquito or flea, bites into your skin, they can leave traces of their own saliva in your skin. When this happens, our immune system reacts by producing antibodies that release certain chemicals. One of these chemicals is called histamine, which is responsible for the itchy feeling often associated with bug bites. According to Medline Plus, some insect bites can transmit deadly diseases such as malaria and West Nile virus 1. As a precaution, avoid areas that may appear to be infested with mosquitos or other insects.


Dermatitis is a broad term used to describe an inflammation of the skin. Dermatitis is characterized by the presence of red bumps, rashes, itchy and dry skin. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, contact dermatitis is an inflammation of the skin--often in the form of a rash--that results from contact with irritants such as soap or jewelry or contact with allergen-producing substances, such as poison ivy or poison oak. Atopic dermatitis is a condition that may be caused by a malfunction of the immune system and is characterized by small, red raised bumps that may itch. These bumps may leak fluid and crust over if scratched. See your doctor if itching is so severe that you cannot sleep, if your skin becomes painful or if you suspect your skin is infected.