What are the causes of a petechial hemorrhage?

A petechial hemorrhage is a type of bruise-like bleeding under the skin that has causes ranging from simply hitting a pimple on the edge of a coffee table to serious illnesses that require medical attention. Unlike a typical bruise, a petechial hemorrhage creates a pattern of tiny red dots called petechiae. Some petechial hemorrhages are mistaken for rashes, although they do not cause the chronic itching, blistering, and swelling that often accompany rashes.

Injuries are among the less serious causes of a petechial hemorrhage. Women are more likely than men to develop skin bruises after an injury, although genetics also play a role in determining how easy a person bruises. The intense journey from the uterus during a vaginal birth can also cause petechial hemorrhages as pressure is put on the delicate skin of a newborn baby.

After a blow or blow, bleeding occurs under the skin. For older adults, even a small bump can cause this type of damage as aging capillaries become prone to rupture and thinning skin loses the protective layer of fat that once helped protect blood vessels. Depending on the severity of the injury, a petechial hemorrhage usually goes away in a short period of time as the blood is reabsorbed by the body.

Another minor cause of a petechial hemorrhage is medication. Some drugs, such as aspirin and warfarin, thin the blood and reduce clotting. Herbal medications can also affect coagulation, increasing a person's chances of developing bruises and petechial hemorrhages. Before taking herbal medications, people should always discuss side effects with a doctor or pharmacist.

The disease is among the most serious causes of a petechial hemorrhage. Lupus, leukemia, and multiple myeloma are some examples of conditions that cause petechial hemorrhages. In most cases, however, there are other symptoms as well, and those symptoms, not the petechial hemorrhage, are usually the ones that cause a person to seek treatment.

For example, a person with lupus may have joint pain, vision problems, and bouts of diarrhea. Early signs of leukemia include high fever, infections, swelling in various parts of the body, and bleeding from the nose or gums. Bone pain, chronic fatigue, and shortness of breath are indicative of multiple myeloma. If these symptoms occur, especially in combination with petechial hemorrhages, a person should seek medical attention. Doctors generally take a medical history, perform a physical exam, and evaluate blood work to determine the cause of a petechial hemorrhage.

Petechial hemorrhage as a symptom of the disease may not be treatable without also treating the underlying disease, but injury-related petechial hemorrhages can be prevented. Recommendations to prevent such injuries include reducing household clutter and removing objects that can lead to bruising-causing accidents. People are also advised to avoid prolonged exposure to the sun which can further damage the skin.

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