What is Purpura?

Purpura is described as reddish to purple-colored spots or patches that are found on the skin, in the mucous membranes and in the mouth. Purpura may also occur in the organs which is usually the result of the rupture of small blood vessels; these blood vessels leak and join together to create patches on the skin.

When purpura spots are still small, these are called petechial rashes which are seen as small pin point spots. When these spots join together they become large patches or spots. When purpura patches grow larger, these are called ecchymoses.

Thrombocytopenic purpura is the result of a decrease in circulating blood platelets. Platelets help blood clot which is why there is rupture and bleeding of small blood vessels on the skin. Nonthrombocytopenic purpura on the other hand is purpura which is not associated with thrombocytopenia. These include cases illnesses like Henoch-Schonlein purpura and hereditary hemorrhagic telegiectasia.

Why does purpura happen?

Nonthrombocytopenic purpura happens because of the following conditions:

  • Blood clotting disorders
  • Congenital rubella syndrome
  • People afflicted with fragile blood vessels
  • Taking drugs that affect platelet functions
  • Inflammation of the blood vessels
  • Straining and pressure changes as a result of childbirth
  • When blood vessels build-up in the case of hemangioma
  • When a person suffers from scurvy (a condition wherein there is severe lack of vitamin C)
  • Prolonged steroid use.

Thrombocytopenic purpura happens because of the following:

  • Maybe due to conditions like idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP)
  • In newborn infants with immune neonatal thrombocytopenia
  • When a person takes medications that causes purpura.
  • In cases of meningococcemia

In any of these symptoms, you should call your doctor immediately. Your doctor will do the following:

  1. Thorough physical exam which includes an analysis of your purpura lesions. Your doctor will surely ask the following:
  • When was the first time you had purpura rashes?
  • What color are your spots?
  • Do you take any medications for your rashes? Are you currently taking medications?
  • Do you have other symptoms aside from rashes?
  • Has anyone in your family experienced having rashes or bruises?
  1. Your doctor will recommend diagnostic procedures like blood works which includes platelet levels to determine the exact reason for your purpura. A skin biopsy may also be recommended in cases when there are complicated lesions or ulcers.
  2. Your doctor will advise the ideal treatment for your purpura after finding out your exact diagnosis. For example, if your bleeding is due to a decrease in platelet in the blood he will recommend blood transfusions to improve your platelet count. For other conditions like thrombocytopenic purpura, appropriate medications are prescribed.
  3. Your doctor will also advice appropriate remedies to help reduce symptoms like fever, headaches, vomiting and so many more. He will also advice follow-ups and regular monitoring of your platelet levels. Monitoring will help determine the effectiveness of treatment and any future treatments to prevent purpura.
  4. Finally, your doctor will advise the ideal diet and lifestyle which will help you manage your illness and your symptoms.

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