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Skin Care and Diseases

Red bumps on torso

02/18/2006

Question:

I`ve developed an outbreak of small red bumps all over my torso - nothing on my face, neck, arms, or legs. The bumps look like acne (no itching, no pus, no burning, no pain unless I scratch or rub them), and it started about a week ago with five or six red bumps around my love handles, front and back. But yesterday, it blew up into about 30-40 all over my torso. It only got worse today with about a dozen more. I don`t have a history of acne at all (not even during puberty), and I have no symptoms other than the bumps themselves. The only recent change I can think of is that I stopped taking birth control pills for a couple weeks, then started them up again yesterday. No other differences. Do you have any idea what this may be?

Answer:

The eruption you describe might have many etiologies as described; however, it would suggest that you are developing pityriasis rosea, where at first there are single or several spots and later more.  They start out as bumps, even vesicles, and become scaly and resolve in 6 to 8 weeks.  Occasionally medications can produce a similar eruption.  The only way to be certain of your diagnosis, as presented, is to see a board certified dermatologist for a complete physical exam, complete history, and evaluation.  A skin biopsy may be necessary to define your process.

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Response by:

Charles L Heaton, MD
Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati