What is the difference between petechiae and purpura?

Petechiae and purpura are blood disorders. Purpura is the term used to describe any purple patch of skin caused by bleeding under the skin. Petechiae is a subtype of purpura that is usually caused by physical trauma. Very small purple spots on the skin are normally petechiae, where the purpura can be much larger.

A person should make an appointment with their doctor if they think petechiae and purpura are causing strange marks on their skin. The doctor will need to run tests to see what is causing the blood vessel problems. Petechiae and purpura may occur together or separately.

Petechiae are often caused by injuries, accidents, excessive coughing, or extreme bouts of vomiting. Certain medications and some types of allergic reactions can also cause petechiae. The doctor is likely to ask a patient with signs of petechiae a list of relevant questions and perform a complete blood count and platelet count.

Large purpura can be caused by vascular problems, platelet disorders, meningitis, or a vitamin C deficiency. A medical professional may choose to do a skin biopsy on an area of ​​skin affected by purpura. Other tests that need to be done will depend on the patient's full list of symptoms.

The underlying cause of the petechiae and purpura will determine what treatments are necessary. Patients who have developed the symptoms of purpura skin as a result of an injury may have to wait for the spots to fade on their own. However, a person who tests positive for meningitis will need immediate medical attention and a series of medications that can save their lives. Petechiae caused by an allergic reaction will usually go away within a few days after the person is no longer exposed to the allergen and receives allergy medication.

Some young children under the age of 7 may develop rheumatoid purpura, a form of purpura that does not usually affect adults. Most symptoms of infantile rheumatoid purpura will go away on their own, but in rare cases there are also other health problems that can lead to kidney failure if left untreated. Any child who develops spots that may be purple should be evaluated by a pediatrician. Purpura in children can also be caused by a syndrome called purpura fulminans, a condition that is usually accompanied by vomiting and a high fever. A lumbar puncture may be done to make a diagnosis.

Go up