What are these tiny red dots on hands and legs?


Have you ever noticed small red dots appearing on your hands or legs and wondered what they are? These tiny red dots, also known as petechiae, can be alarming when they suddenly appear on your skin. In this article, we will explore the various causes of these red dots, their symptoms, and when to seek medical attention.

Symptoms of Petechiae

Petechiae are pinpoint-sized red or purple spots that occur due to bleeding under the skin. They can appear in clusters or as individual dots and may be flat or raised. Some common symptoms associated with petechiae include:

  • Appearance of red dots on the skin
  • Small spots that do not fade when pressed
  • No accompanying pain or itching
  • Occurrence on the lower legs, feet, and hands

Causes of Petechiae

Petechiae can have several underlying causes. Here are some of the most common reasons for the appearance of these tiny red dots:

1. Injury or Trauma

Petechiae can occur as a result of minor injuries or trauma to the skin. This can include activities such as pinching, scratching, or excessive pressure on the affected area. The tiny blood vessels under the skin may rupture, causing the characteristic red dots to appear.

2. Allergic Reactions

In some cases, petechiae may be a symptom of an allergic reaction. Certain allergens, such as medications, foods, or environmental factors, can trigger an immune response that leads to the development of red dots on the skin. It is important to identify and avoid the allergen to prevent further reactions.

3. Infections

Infections, particularly viral or bacterial infections, can also result in petechiae. Some common infections associated with petechiae include meningitis, strep throat, and sepsis. If you develop petechiae along with other symptoms like fever, headache, or body aches, it is essential to consult a healthcare professional.

4. Blood Disorders

Certain blood disorders can cause petechiae as a symptom. Conditions such as thrombocytopenia, a low platelet count, or leukemia, a type of blood cancer, can lead to bleeding under the skin. If you suspect a blood disorder, it is crucial to seek medical advice for proper diagnosis and treatment.

5. Medications

Some medications, such as certain antibiotics, anticoagulants, or chemotherapy drugs, can increase the risk of developing petechiae. These drugs may affect the blood’s ability to clot properly, leading to bleeding beneath the skin. If you notice the appearance of red dots after starting a new medication, consult your doctor.

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When to Seek Medical Attention

While petechiae can often resolve on their own without treatment, there are instances where medical attention is necessary. Here are some situations where you should consult a healthcare professional:

  • If petechiae appear suddenly and without an apparent cause
  • If you experience a high fever or severe headache along with petechiae
  • If the red dots spread rapidly or increase in number
  • If you have a known blood disorder or are taking medications that may cause petechiae

Remember, it is always better to consult a medical professional to ensure an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.


Petechiae, the tiny red dots that can appear on hands and legs, can have various causes ranging from minor injuries to underlying medical conditions. While they may not always indicate a serious issue, it is essential to pay attention to any accompanying symptoms and seek medical advice when necessary. By understanding the potential causes of petechiae, you can better navigate their presence and take appropriate action.

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