Skin Disorders

Skin Disorders

Skin disorders cover a wide range of conditions, some benign, some very serious, and some even a sign of another underlying illness. A skin disorder not only affects your physical health, but also your emotional well-being.


Skin CareSkin Disorders › Petechiae and Purpura

Petechiae and Purpura

Purpura are larger areas of bleeding into the skin that begin as red areas that become purple and later brownish-yellow. Purpura usually appears in crops and may disappear over three to five days. It can occur on any part of body but is more common on specific areas, such as the front of the shins.

Petechiae are pinpoint-sized hemorrhages of small capillaries in the skin or mucous membranes. Petechiae is the term given to the individual small red or red-blue spots about 1-5mm in diameter which make up the rash.

Causes of Petechiae and Purpura

There are many possible causes of petechiae. Common causes include:

  • Injury or trauma
  • Bruise (ecchymosis)
  • Birth (petechiae in the newborn)
  • Leukemia (purpura and ecchymosis)
  • Medical treatment, including radiation and chemotherapy
  • Viral infection or illness affecting blood coagulation
  • Aging skin (ecchymosis)
  • Allergic reaction
  • nutritional deficiencies, such as a deficiency in vitamins C , K , or B12 , or folic acid

Purpura may occur when the platelet count of the blood is low (thrombocytopenia) but there are other causes too. It can occur when the blood vessel wall is particularly fragile, has been damaged, or if the skin is thin. In elderly people so-called 'senile purpura' is often seen on the outer surface of the arm and back of the hand.

Symptoms of Petechiae and Purpura

The signs and symptoms of Purpura vary depending on the type of purpura. The following broad generalisations may be made.

  • Petechiae are usually present in thrombocytopaenic purpura. There may be some external bleeding and bruising.
  • Coagulation defects usually present as large ecchymoses and external bleeding. Petechiae do not feature.
  • Lesions of blood vessels cause persistent and localised purpura with an erythematous inflammatory component. This may be palpable. Ecchymoses or external bleeding is uncommon.

Petechiae and Purpura treatment

Treatment is directed at the underlying cause of the petechiae. For example, someone with petechiae caused by an infection is given antibiotics. If petechiae are caused by allergy to a medication, the medication may need to be stopped. A person with petechiae due to a low platelet count may need a transfusion of platelets or other blood factors. A person with leukemia or cancer may need surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy. Petechiae caused by injury need no treatment. Applying an ice pack off and on for 24 hours after the injury may reduce further petechiae. The petechiae will fade in time.

Home Care

  • For aging skin, protection of skin is recommended. Avoid trauma such as bumping or pulling on skin areas.
  • For a cut or scrape, use direct pressure to stop the bleeding.

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