Do Red Spots on the Skin Indicate the Symptoms of Something More Serious?

Red spots on the skin can be harmless or a sign of more serious conditions such as leukemia or meningitis, according to Healthgrades. People who have red spots on their skin accompanied by symptoms such as a stiff neck, loss of alertness, fever, difficulty breathing or swelling of the face or tongue should seek medical help immediately.

Leukemia is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow that leads to the overproduction of white blood cells, states Cleveland Clinic. The formation of petechiae, or small spots of discoloration under the skin, is one of the symptoms of leukemia. Doctors may suspect a patient has leukemia if he displays a pinpoint rash and other symptoms such as enlarged lymph nodes, swollen gums and an enlarged liver or spleen. There are several types of leukemia including acute lymphocytic, acute myelogenous, chronic lymphocytic and chronic myelogenous.

Red spots on the skin can also be a symptom of meningitis, a serious bacterial infection that causes swelling of the membranes covering the spinal cord and brain, notes MedlinePlus. Pinpoint red spots, nausea, sensitivity to light, severe headache and stiff neck are some of the symptoms of meningitis. Doctors use tests such as spinal taps, blood cultures, chest X-rays and white blood cell counts to determine if patients have meningitis. Brain damage, hearing loss, myocarditis, seizures and a buildup of fluid between the skull and the brain are possible complications of meningitis.