What are the signs and symptoms of purpura?

Having healthy skin is essential as it does not only make a person look attractive but also saves hassle from going through possible skin disorders. There are many kinds of skin disorders leading to a person to try many new types of skin care or remedies to help improve the skin health. One of the skin disorders or lesions that might cause a person to get worried and ask a doctor is a purpura.

Purpura is defined as discoloration of the skin or mucous membrane caused by bleeding from the small vessels. This led to accumulation of blood under the skin. Purpura is also known as skin haemorrhages or blood spots. Purpura can be a sign for minor skin injuries to a serious disease that could be life-threatening. Purpura itself is more of a sign for an underlying cause rather than being a disease itself.

Purpura can be caused by many causes. Among the causes are disorders affecting the blood vessels function such as damaged small blood vessels and deterioration of blood vessels in the elderly, infections, autoimmune disease, vitamin C deficiency, diseases affecting blood clot such as in disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) and drug-induced like warfarin, heparin or steroids. Purpura in essence can be caused by platelet disorders, coagulation disorders or blood vessels disorders. Any disruptions to the normal blood clotting process will ultimately cause such a condition.

Understanding signs and symptoms of purpura can be a great help as it may help a person decide if they need to go to hospital soon or let it heal by itself. Sign of purpura includes purplish-red rash below the skin which may change to dark brown or black over a few weeks. Purpura comes in a few sizes: small spots below 2 mm called petechiae and patches or bruises more than 1 cm called ecchymoses. Purpura can appear on any part of the body including mucous membranes such as inside the mouth. What makes other rashes different to purpura is that purpura will not change its colour when it is pressed.

Symptoms of purpura area include increased bleeding after an injury, bleeding gums or nose, presence of blood in urine or stool, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, sore and swollen joints and excessive fatigue. Symptoms may vary depending on the cause of the purpura. Hence, it is best to talk to a healthcare professional if you are concerned of the purpura or bruising that appear without any injury before.

When a person found themselves suspecting it is a purpura or skin bruising and decided to get medical advice, physicians usually ask a few more questions regarding symptoms, medical history or other possible medical issues to help narrow down the causes or underlying conditions leading to such conditions. After questions and physical examination, physicians will typically order blood tests such as complete blood count to get a clear picture of a person’s blood status such as blood clotting factor and urine test to see kidney function that may affect the blood circulatory system. In some cases, biopsy of the skin may be done to rule out skin cancer as skin cancer may look similar to purpura spots.

Treatment given depends on the underlying condition. Most patients with purpura may not need immediate treatment unless it is a life-threatening condition such as in dengue patients and Henoch-Schönlein purpura.  In cases of purpura resulting from minor injury, it should resolve on its own.

It can be concluded that purpura is a symptom and not a condition itself. While most purpura can be seen as harmless, purpura itself can be a sign for severe medical conditions. Thus, it is wise to have discussion with a healthcare provider if you are worried of skin bruises such as purpura.

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