This slang term would be a useful NOOB, in not having a good U.S. equivalent. Pimply would be the closest, but that sounds kind of weird and maybe too clinical: the kind of thing that Holden Caulfield would say about Ackley. My sense is that in the U.K., spots and spotty can refer to all sorts of blemishes and markings on the skin.
I was interested, therefore, to pick up today’s New York Times and read theater critic Ben Brantley (who has made numerous appearances in these pages) mentioning “YouTube videos of spotty shut-ins making like divas in their bedrooms.”
But I had to go back to 2007 to find another use in the Times: a reference, in an article about skin care, to “half-hour Proactiv infomercials using ordinary people to recount their transformations from reticent loners with spotty skin into pimple-free social butterflies.”
On reflection, I’m inclined to doubt that spotty will catch on over here. To my ears, its teasing overtones (even when used about oneself) clash with the blue-sky self-esteem that our language, at least, insistently promotes.