19 answers

How Do I Get Rid of Red Bumps on My Upper Arms?

I didn't always have them, but for years I have had red dots on my upper arms - not bumbs like a rash, they don't itch or hurt or anything. I saw an article on them in Prevention once and went to a dermatologist once, which was no help (recommended micro-dermabrasion which did not help). Do/did any of you have this before? Any idea what causes it or how to get rid of it? They are dark enough that it is embarrassing to wear short sleeves or a tank top. Thank you for your help!

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Thank you all for the great advice, I am going to try several of these things and will keep you posted and let you know what works for me - for those of you that have the same problem. Thanks again! C.

Featured Answers

Actually, you have Keratosis Pilaris - it's a form of Eczema.


1 mom found this helpful

I used to have those too and was embarrassed, but didn't think much of them. Then I had a food allergy test done for very different symptoms. Once I eliminated those foods I was allergic to from my diet, the bumps on my arm went away. For me, the foods were corn and yeast, but I think it is very body/person specific.

I hope that is helpful information. The food allergy test I had done involved taking blood and a lab test.


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I have red dots, some even with my skin and some raised placed randomly all over my body. I also have brown spots that are probably age spots. My dad rubbed a bleach like substance over his brown spots and they faded. At the time he used Porcelana. There are other less exensive and generic brands available now. I've read that you can use the combination of lemon juice and the sun to fade them. I don't know if red spots will respond in the same way.

When I was in my 30's my doctor referred me to a dermatologist at OHSU who was studying a condition for which red spots is a precursor when they appear in a certain pattern. I'll look up the name later. I would think the dermatologist would recognize the condition. Don't worry about that. She looked at all of my red spots and told me that they were just there. No known cause and no negative reactions to having them. They have a name which I have forgotten. They may be genetically acquired. Everyone in my family have them. My adopted daughter and her children do not.

I don't know if this will help. I'm now 66. I remember during my first half of life being self conscious about a variety of things. Around 50 I realized that everyone has differences, some of which are obvious such as discolorations on their skin and no one pays attention to what others' have unless to feel relieved that someone else has the same condition.

I grew up being told that once the backs of my upper arms became flabby and they will do so I should cover them with sleeves. In the past couple of years I've noticed famous people wearing sleeveless dresses and tops even tho their arms are flapping. I've gone back to wearing some sleeveless tops. I also have a scar on my chest that shows with some tops. At first I was self-conscious. No more. When I paid attention I saw several people my age with the same sort of scar. I now believe that the scar is just one more thing that shows that I've survived to be this age. Grey and white hair is the same. I would color my hair if I didn't have to keep up the part line which is now a big job :):):):):0) I'd rather do fun things.

Please work on not being embarrassed. Also in not even noticing them. We all have imperfections. To those of us who focus on have a good life they are unimportant.

1 mom found this helpful

I get them too, on my arms under the shirt sleeves and on my thighs. They go away if I exfoliate regularly (just in the shower, nothing special), mosturize and go sleeveless every now and then.

1 mom found this helpful

Actually, you have Keratosis Pilaris - it's a form of Eczema.


1 mom found this helpful

I had the same thing on my arms and backs of my legs. The dermotologist told me it is dry skin and perscribed a lotion, which is long gone but what I do now is put vitamin E oil on after I get out of the shower and it helps soooo much. I get my vitamin E oil at Trader Joes but you should be able to get it at any drug store.

I do have them! I read once that moisturizers were what was needed. Didn't work. Tried lotions with lactic acid, I think that was what it was, didn't work. Sunscreen, to not damage skin further, allergic. I've tried covering up, not fun when it's hot! I feel your pain!

Theres actually a great product by AVON, Moisture Therapy Skin Bump Minimizer, It works wonders and its fairly cheap about $8!
When I started selling AVON, I bought it as a joke for my sister (she always complained about them) and then she called and thanked me a million times because she had tried everying and this actually worked. I have sold it to quite a few people and only heard good things.

**Im not marketing myself, I was just tellng you my story!!

I have them too and I was told that it is from being dry. Try using Amlactin lotion. It is better for me, not all gone tho'..
if you get to know anything that works, please share!! :)

I used to have those too and was embarrassed, but didn't think much of them. Then I had a food allergy test done for very different symptoms. Once I eliminated those foods I was allergic to from my diet, the bumps on my arm went away. For me, the foods were corn and yeast, but I think it is very body/person specific.

I hope that is helpful information. The food allergy test I had done involved taking blood and a lab test.


Hi! A friend of mine who's father is a dermatologist told me that that those little red bumps on upper arms (if you notice- A LOT of people have them) is actually caused by a very slight lactose intolerance. There's not much you can do- try cutting out some dairy? It sounds like the other ladies who responded have some great advice too. Goo dluck!

Maybe you just need to moistureize better? Try Aveeno products, expensive, but awesome!

I've always had them too. I've always hated them. Two things I've started doing recently has helped SO much and my skin is almost smooth now and the red is gone, gone. I use an ex foliating wash on them while showering and then before drying off I put baby oil on them and then dry them off. It doesn't leave your skin oily like you might think. I just recently was told my an esthetician that virgin coconut oil will work even better than baby oil. It traps in way more moisture than even baby oil can. I haven't tried it yet but I plan to. She said you can get it in the organic/health food section at Fred Meyer. Use it like the baby oil, rub it in before you dry off after a shower. Lotions just don't trap in as much water/moisture. Good luck!

Hi C.! It sounds like you might have Keratosis Pilaris, a fairly common genetic skin condition in which excess amounts of keratin (skin protein) are produced and it causes red bumps and sometimes, around the hair follicle, there will be a build up of the keratin which might look like a very tiny pimple.

I have had it for many, many years...since I was a child! While it is not painful or itchy, etc., I have always been so self conscious and have seen about 10 different dermatologists about it through the years. None of them ever suggested it was keratosis pilaris, but when I was 24, I came across a dermatology text-book and finally discovered what it was. Most of the pics on the internet show severe cases of keratosis pilaris, and I have a mild case so I didn't think that is what I had, but, it is.

It was a frustrating process to find something that worked for me, but, I FINALLY found a prescription that helps a LOT. Much better than any other thing I've tried. It is Triamcinolone Acetonide (0.1%) cream, and Clindamycin Phosphate (1%) lotion. Supposed to apply this cream and lotion twice a day but I usually forget at night so I only apply it once.

The following things were suggested and/or prescribed to me through the years by dermatologists and they did NOT work for me: using a loofah to exfoliate (made it worse actually), micro-dermabrasion, Amlactin lotion, Lac-Hydrin lotion, Retin-A cream, Carmel cream.

One other thing worked for me...it was a prescription called Cutivate but it's a strong topical steroid so it shouldn't be used for long durations. It works quickly (within a day or two) whereas the prescription I'm using now (Triamcinolone + Clindamycin) takes a few weeks to see results. So if I have not been using my regular prescription and need a quick remedy (e.g. if I'm going to a wedding or dress-up event and need the bumps to go away quickly) then the Cutivate can be used occasionally.

My insurance covers the prescriptions so it's only a $10 copay for the lotions, but if you run into insurance issues or if you want a less "chemical" treatment, I also have found that Neutrogena Multi-Vitamin Acne wash has helped a little bit!

Good luck and hope one of these things will work for you!

I would agree that you probably have keratosis pilaris. It is actually a genetic condition - but 50% of the population carries it. I had it mildly before I was pregnant, but it has been pretty bad since. The bumps are actually filled with keratin protein. Different kind of exfoliants can definitely help - I use Glytone body wash and lotion and it works for me. It completely get rid of the bumps, but not the redness. If you look up kp online you will find all sorts of different products that have worked for some people. They are usually different types of chemical exfoliants.

As far as being associated with lactose intolerance, I gave up dairy for a while because I thought it may be affecting my baby, and it had no impact whatsoever on the bumps.

Good luck - I know how frustrating this is!

I always thought I needed to clean/exfoliate more. When I saw a dermatologist a few years ago for suspicious moles, he said I had "atopic skin". Huh? That just means that my skin reacts to allergens -- dry skin (hands especially), oily skin (hair, face), eczema, red spots and bumps on backs of upper arms and thighs. In my case, I have found that my skin clears up if I clean up my diet -- less sugar, less milk product, lots of water.

Hope this helps!

I would expose them to sun. Those 'red-bumps' always seem to occur under the t-shirt line. My brother had them and they were greatly improved with sun-shine. Also, you might try changing your detergent and wearing only natural fabrics for a while. :)

My friends sister is a nutritionalist and said that those little bumps are signs of a lack of omega-3s. You get these from eating fish, and if you don't care for fish you can get fish oil tablets at most stores. Hope that helps

I started using a shea butter apricot scrub and they went away. Although the product recommended 2 times per week, I use it daily.

I hope that helps.

I have them too and have found that they tend to get worse in the winter when they are covered up. I use a loofah or textured washcloth (gently) and follow up with Keri lotion (this was recommended by a dermatologist). They get better with regular care & exposure to air/sun, so you should see a difference once the weather gets a bit warmer.
Best wishes!

Hi Celena,
I have the same problem and my sister does too. I wanted to know if you have tried the Shea Butter Scub or the Avon Moisture Therapy Skin Bump Minimizer? I want to purchase one of them but I am not sure if they really work. Please let me know.

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