Red, Blotchy Skin on the Arms

Blotchiness on the arms can be bothersome and frustrating. A variety of medical and environmental conditions cause blotchy skin; some cases require the attention of a medical practitioner. In order to properly diagnose your skin problem, you should understand why and how skin blotchiness occurs.

Read more about large red blotches on skin.


Blotchiness on the arms may be accompanied by a variety of other symptoms. These can include rough skin, itchiness, bumps that look like acne and inflamed skin-colored bumps. In certain cases, headache, fever, a giddy or intoxicated feeling and memory loss may develop in conjunction with blotchy skin on the arms. The skin of the arms may also appear puffy, irritated or scaly, or develop blisters that can ooze and crust over.


Red blotches on the arms can be due to a variety of illnesses and skin conditions. The Mayo Clinic explains that keratosis pilaris can cause an excess buildup of the skin’s protein, causing red, scaly, blotchy plugs to develop on the skin 12. Blotchiness may also be due to eczema or contact dermatitis, in which the skin reacts to substances such as soap or chemicals. Medical conditions such as Hughes syndrome can cause the blood to clot in the veins, giving the arms a blotchy appearance.

Read more about what causes eczema to flare up.


A physician can determine the cause of blotchy skin on the arms. He may suggest a medication or cream containing vitamin D, glycolic acid, lactic acid, tretinoin or urea to reduce the appearance of blotchiness. With keratosis pilaris, topical retinoids can help slough off the excess keratin causing blotchiness 12. To treat Hughes syndrome, a doctor may suggest the use of the medications heparin, warfarin and aspirin.


To prevent the formation of blotchiness on the arms, the KidsHealth website recommends avoiding items that irritate the skin. Keeping a diary may be able to help pinpoint substances that trigger reactions. Hot showers, long baths, harsh cleansers and perfumed products can all be culprits. Skin conditions such as keratosis pilaris can be remedied; however, therapy must be repeated often to keep the condition from recurring 12.


Contact a doctor if blotchy skin on the arms worsens or does not respond to home treatments and lotions. Always contact a doctor if you suspect keratosis pilaris or Hughes syndrome is the cause of blotchy skin on the arms 12. Left untreated, these conditions can worsen or cause dangerous side effects such as heart attack and multiple sclerosis.