What causes red sores and how to treat them?

Symptom Database

Red sores on the skin can be a cause of concern for many individuals. These painful skin sores, also known as skin ulcers or skin lesions, can be a sign of various underlying conditions. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for red sores is crucial for effective management and relief. In this article, we will explore the different aspects of red sores, including their causes, symptoms, and potential treatment options.

Causes of Red Sores

Red sores can be caused by a range of factors, including:

  • Skin inflammation
  • Skin infections
  • Allergic reactions
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Excessive scratching or picking at the skin

It is important to identify the underlying cause of red sores to determine the most appropriate treatment approach.

Symptoms of Red Sores

The symptoms associated with red sores may vary depending on the underlying cause. However, common symptoms include:

  • Redness and inflammation around the sore
  • Pain or tenderness
  • Itching or burning sensation
  • Fluid-filled blisters
  • Crusting or scabbing

If you notice any of these symptoms, it is advisable to seek medical attention for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Treatment Options for Red Sores

1. Identify and Address Underlying Causes

The first step in treating red sores is to identify and address the underlying cause. This may involve consulting with a healthcare professional who can conduct a thorough examination and order any necessary tests. Once the cause is determined, appropriate treatment can be prescribed.

2. Topical Medications

Topical medications, such as creams or ointments, can be used to alleviate symptoms and promote healing. These medications may contain ingredients like antibiotics, antifungals, or corticosteroids, depending on the specific condition causing the red sores.

3. Oral Medications

In some cases, oral medications may be necessary to treat red sores. These medications may include antibiotics to combat bacterial infections or antivirals to address viral infections. It is important to follow the prescribed dosage and duration of treatment to ensure effectiveness.

4. Wound Care

Proper wound care is essential for the healing of red sores. This may involve cleaning the affected area with mild soap and water, applying an antibiotic ointment, and covering the sore with a sterile bandage. Regularly changing the bandage and keeping the area clean can help prevent infection and promote healing.

5. Lifestyle Modifications

Making certain lifestyle modifications can also aid in the treatment of red sores. These may include:

  • Avoiding triggers or allergens that may worsen the condition
  • Keeping the affected area clean and dry
  • Avoiding excessive scratching or picking at the sores
  • Wearing loose-fitting clothing to prevent irritation
  • Using gentle, fragrance-free skincare products

These lifestyle modifications can help reduce symptoms and prevent further irritation or infection.

When to Seek Medical Attention

While mild cases of red sores can often be managed at home, there are instances where medical attention should be sought. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional if:

  • The sores are spreading or worsening
  • There is severe pain or discomfort
  • Signs of infection, such as pus or increased redness, are present
  • Fever or other systemic symptoms develop

These signs may indicate a more serious underlying condition that requires medical intervention.


Red sores on the skin can be a distressing condition, but with proper understanding and treatment, relief is possible. Identifying the underlying cause, addressing it with appropriate medications, and practicing good wound care are essential steps in managing red sores. Additionally, making lifestyle modifications can help prevent further irritation and promote healing. If you experience persistent or worsening symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Remember, early intervention is key to effectively managing red sores and promoting skin health.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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