Worried what those reddish -purple dots are under the skin? Not sure if it’s just rashes or something serious? Do not worry because we are here to answer all your questions regarding these tiny little reddish-purple clusters, medically known as petechiae that are making you frown. We will discuss everything about petechiae below, such as what is petechiae, what are its cause, symptoms, identification, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. So, relax and read this article to find answers to your various queries on Petechiae without wasting another second.
What Is Petechiae?
Petechia or petechiae in the plural form are the reddish-purple spots that occur on the skin. They often resemble rashes when they start as they are red in the beginning but with the passage of time, it turns almost purple, thus closely resembling freckles. They vary in size but going by the book they cannot have a diameter of more than 3mm. They are flat to touch. They can occur in any part of the body. They rarely occur as a single lesion and in most of the cases, they occur in clusters. They occur when the small blood capillaries under the skin rupture due to various reasons causing the accumulation of blood under the skin. The specialty to refer to in the case of petechiae is rheumatology.
Before jumping guns upon its causes, it is important to examine and conclude that it indeed is petechiae. Petechia is different from rashes or pimples as they do not get decolorized on putting pressure, unlike the rashes that turn white on applying pressure. Freckles are brownish and dark while petechiae are reddish-purple. Their diameters range from 0.5 to 2 mm. The ones that are larger are called purpura.
Causes Of Petechiae:
As already stated, the cause of petechiae on face or any other surface is blood leakage into the skin because of ruptured or broken capillaries. There are various reasons for these petechiae on legs or any other place to occur. They can occur because of physical traumas or other infectious or non-infectious causes. At times, it can also occur because of reaction to a certain medical drug. Below we have mentioned the various causes leading to this issue.
- Coughing hard, holding breath for a long time or vomiting can be a reason. Facial petechiae are very common in this case
- Constriction or asphyxiation is also a reason. Petechiae can occur because of excessive pressure on the tissues.
- Sunburn, childbirth and weight lifting are other common reasons.
- Choking, biting and hitting can also lead to petechiae.
- Cytomegalovirus(CMV): It is caused by a virus and is accompanied with fever, sore throat and body ache.
- Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome: It is a viral infection which occurs with the flu-like syndrome.
- Meningococcemia: It is a bacterial infection in the respiratory tract. Fever, nausea, and headache are common in this case.
- Mononucleosis: It is a viral infection transmitted through saliva and other body fluids.
- Rocky Mountain spotted fever: It is a bacterial infection caused by ticks. It can occur with high fever and chills.
- Boutonneuse Fever: It is a fever caused by rickettsial infection and it is transmitted by ticks found near dogs.
- Scarlet fever: It is a bacterial fever that occurs after experiencing strep throat.
- Sepsis: Sepsis is a life-threatening blood infection.
- Strep throat: It is a bacterial infection that causes a sore throat.
- Viral hemorrhagic Fever: Infectious fevers like Dengue, Ebola and yellow fever are considered as Viral Haemorrhagic fever. In such cases, the blood cannot clot leading to bleeding and thus petechiae.
- Chikungunya: It is a viral infection caused by Chikungunya virus. The other symptoms are rashes, joint swelling, muscle pain, and headache.
- Endocarditis: It is a problem cause in the inner lining of the heart. Fever, chills, fatigue, shortness of breath, achy joints and muscle pain are the other symptoms that occur in this case.
- Leukemia: It is a type of cancer, cancer of the bone marrow. Petechiae is very common in this case.
- Vitamin K deficiency
- Scurvy: Scurvy is caused in the body by the excessive deficiency of Vitamin C in the body.
- Thrombocytopenia: It is caused when the platelet count in the body is too low.
- Vasculitis: These are the marked swelling in the blood vessels. They are caused by the narrowing and the scarring of the blood vessels.
- Aplastic anemia: It is a rare disease. In this case, the bone marrow and the hematopoietic stem cells are damaged. As a result, there is a deficiency of All three types of blood cells.
- Lupus: It is an autoimmune disease. The healthy tissues of the body are attacked by its own immune system in this condition.
- Hypocalcemia: It is a condition where the level of calcium is very less in blood serum.
- Coeliac disease: The small intestine is affected by this disease. It is a long-term autoimmune disorder.
- Kawasaki disease: It is a condition in which the blood cells throughout the body become inflamed. It occurs with other symptoms like fever, sore throat, diarrhea and rashes.
There are a few medicines that can cause petechiae. Given Below is a list of such medicines that can cause petechiae.
- Antibiotics like Nitrofurantoin and penicillin
- Antidepressants like desipramine
- Ant seizure drugs like Carbamazepine
- Blood thinners like Warfarin and Heparin
- Heart rhythm drugs like Atropine
- Non-Steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Naproxen and indomethacin
- Sedatives like Chloral hydrate
Symptoms Of Petechiae
The symptoms of having petechiae depend on its causes. Each case has its own set of symptoms that help in the diagnosis of the underlying cause. In case of petechiae, infection is accompanied with other flu-like symptoms like fever, headache and muscle ache. If it is caused by a physical trauma there are usually no other symptoms except for physical injury. If it is caused by any medicine, a patient may show signs of allergic reactions or may feel nauseous. In most of the cases, they start like tiny red pinpoint dots and with the passage of time they start turning purple. They seem like reddish purple rash like things. At times they can even turn into purpura.
Diagnosis Of Petechiae:
The diagnosis process includes physical check-up and even hematology. The person showing signs of petechiae is examined to check if he went through any physical injury in the recent past. Next comes the history of patient’s health to show if he suffers from any deficiency or other non- infectious causes leading to petechiae. The person also goes for a checkup to see any drug allergies he may have. The hematology is done to see if the person has an infection. The usual blood tests to determine the causative include:
- Complete blood count: This test accounts for the counting of the various components of blood to check for deficiency or excessiveness of the components like White blood cells(WBCs) and red blood cells(RBCs)
- Platelet count: It is a blood test to determine the number of platelets in the body.
- Bleeding time: In this test, the surface skin is punctured to see the time taken for the bleeding to stop.
- Prothrombin time: It is a test to determine the time taken for the blood to clot. It is a test that also helps in determining whether a certain drug is helping blood to clot or not.
- Partial thromboplastin time: It is also known as activated partial thromboplastin test. It is a blood test to characterize blood coagulation.
- Urine dipstick: It helps in knowing the pathological changes noticed in the urine in a standard urinalysis.
- Microscopy: It is performed on the urine to check its components.
Seeking Medical Aid:
At times the cause of petechiae can be serious. To determine if the cause is serious and to make sure whether you need medical advice or not, check for the accompanying symptoms. If the spots appear after a workout session or after coughing or vomiting the cause is more likely to be the injury and thus nothing serious. They will disappear on their own after a while. If it doesn’t go away after a certain time or it begins to get more numerous, check for the other symptoms. It is better to keep track of it each day. It can be a serious case if it is accompanied by
- Episodes of unconsciousness
- A headache
If any of the above cases is found, then it is time to seek medical advice and meet a doctor to know the exact underlying cause.
Seek instant medical help when these symptoms are found in a child along with the onset of petechiae:
- Pyrexia or tachycardia
- Instant weight loss
- Skin becoming pale
- Renal disorders
- Patterns formed by petechiae
Treatment For Petechiae:
The treatment for Petechiae varies from case to case depending upon if the causative is an infection, deficiency of nutrients, physical trauma, reaction to medicines, other diseases or blood-related issues. Once the cause is determined the treatment begins.
- If the problem is caused by the intake of any medicine, then it disappears after the person stops taking the medicine.
- If it is caused by any bacterial or viral outbreak leading to an infection in the body, the petechiae usually disappear after the infection is dealt with. The doctor may give a few medicines for the same: 1. Antibiotics to deal with bacterial infections 2. Corte steroids to deal with inflammation. 3. Azathioprine (Azasan, Imuran), Methotrexate and Cyclophosphane. 4. Cancer treatment medication
- If the cause of Petechiae is low blood platelet count, then one of the treatments is blood platelet transfusion.
- Surgery is also performed at times to deal with petechiae. Although, the actual reason for the surgery is dealing with the underlying issues like leukemia or other malignant condition.
- Ice/ cold compression is also counted as one of the treatments. Ice packs are out over the affected area with a paper towel between the skin and pack to avoid damaging the surface skin.
- If it seems that there are no underlying causes, then it is better to increase the fluid intake and take lots of rest. One can also consider taking painkiller medicines like ibuprofen and acetaminophen.
- Applying essential oils such as rosehip essential oil makes the skin provides elasticity. Thus, it is a good way to avoid rupturing of capillaries by regularly massaging the body parts with essential oils.
- For people who are not in favor of taking hard medication can run toward homeopathy too. Homeopathy also has a solution to the problem of petechiae. Cinchona Officinalis, Muriaticumacidum, Kreosotum, Trinitrotoluene, Cortisone and Acetic acid can be helpful in this situation. Although one must meet a certified practitioner before taking these.
- Herbs like dandelion root, lotus roots, peppermint, chlorella, and spirulina are very useful in dealing with the underlying causes of Petechiae.
Side Effects Of Petechiae:
There are usually no side effects of this issue. Petechiae without any other symptoms is usually not so dangerous as it is simply the blood leakage into the skin because of a ruptured or a broken blood capillary. There is no scarring after it subsides and neither it is painful or itchy when it is visible on the skin. Although there are a few serious side effects that can occur rarely in some cases. They are listed below:
- It can have a very damaging impact on the heart
- It can also cause issues in the kidney, skin, lungs and other organs.
- It can also cause infection in the other parts of the body.
Since Petechiae almost always has another cause behind, measures should be taken to avoid the causative symptoms. Although, it is very difficult to pinpoint all the causatives and deal with it yet one can try to be a bit cautious t0o avoid it. Some of the points are given below:
- Avoid taking medical drugs that are bound to cause this condition.
- Always have safe sex
- Avoid infections by keeping the surroundings clean.
- Try staying fit and healthy by taking balanced diet and ample water and other liquids.
- Avoid going through strenuous physical activities that can lead to such issues.
- As one of the causes of Petechiae is vitamin deficiencies, make sure to take all the required nutrients.
So, this was all that you need to know about petechiae. This condition is always misunderstood. We at Live It Beautiful hope that we have addressed to all your concerns regarding Petechiae. Still, have questions and lingering doubts? Shoot it at us by posting your questions in the comments section below. Feel free to post all your advice. Have a healthy life and live it beautifully.