In this article, we comprehend petechiae pictures, images, causes, appearance on legs, arms etc; and treatment of this skin disorder.
This is a disorder that is caused due to bleeding beneath the skin and which results in the development of circular, tiny spots on the surface of the skin. The spots associated with petechiae are brown, red or purple in color. The condition usually presents itself in the form of clusters giving it a rash-like appearance. They are flat to touch and do not change color when one presses on them.
Petechiae are quite small in size and may measure up to three mm. When such spots are larger in size, then they are referred to as purpura. Petechiae may point to the presence of a variety of conditions from minor injury of the blood vessels to life-threatening medical disorders.
What is petechiae ?
- The size: Each of the petechiae spots are usually 1 to 2 mm in size. Even at the final stages of condition, the spots are only 0.5 cm in size and usually never grow beyond a diameter of 3 mm.
- The color: Petechiae spots generally appear as reddish spots in the initial stages. After a period of time, they become bluish or purplish in color. In the later stages, they gradually turn dark purple or dark blue in color
- The location: The petechiae spots initially make an appearance on the legs. However, during the later stages of the condition, the spots may make an appearance on other areas of the body such as the back, shoulders, ankles and thighs.
- Palatal petechiae: When petechiae spots appear on the palate of the affected individual, then it is known as palatal petechiae. It is generally caused due to infection by the Streptococcal bacteria. Such rashes of petechiae may be associated with presence of other conditions such as rubella, viral hemorrhagic fevers, infectious mononucleosis, trauma to the palate, roseola and thrombocytopenia
- Petechiae on the face: It leads to the development of reddish spots on the face. Such petechiae spots are usually caused due to excessive crying, forceful vomiting and violent coughing and can be generally found to appear on the skin surrounding the eyes.
Symptoms of petechiae
Some of the signs and symptoms of petechiae are discussed below:
- The primary symptom of petechiae is the appearance of reddish spots on the skin surface of the legs. They are not raised like rashes, but have a flattened appearance. This is because the spots occur underneath the skin’s surface. This is also one of the reasons for the spots to not fade or change color, when pressure is applied on them
- During the early stages of the condition, the petechiae spots make an appearance as individual spots. The increase in the number of petechiae spots in the later stages result in them grouping together to form clusters.
- The petechiae spots undergo changes in color from a red to brown to eventually purplish in the final stages. Due to oxidation of blood, the petechiae spots may sometimes occur as dark purple or dark brown spots.
Petechiae may be caused due to a number of reasons. Some of the potential causes of petechiae are listed below:
- Most cases of petechiae spots generally arise due to injury or trauma to the skin
- Injury to the capillaries present under the surface of the skin can result in a hemorrhage. The blood may then ooze out from such injured capillaries. However, the absence of any wound or cut on the skin’s surface, prevents such leaked blood to get out and thus causes the blood to collect beneath the skin’s surface.
- The petechiae spots may also be caused when increased pressure is applied on a body tissue. For example, wrapping a tight bandage that compresses an area of the body can result in petechiae spots.
- Certain drugs can cause the formation of petechiae spots on the skin as an allergic reaction
- Low platelet count in the blood or thrombocytopenia can result in diminished functionality of the platelets, leading to formation of petechiae spots. The platelet count may be lowered due to an infection or after consuming certain medications.
- Individuals affected by fever may develop the spots, mostly, when infected by the meningococcus bacterium
- The presence of fatal diseases such as leukemia and bone marrow cancers can lower the platelet count in the body, which in turn increases the risk to development of petechiae spots.
- The presence of autoimmune diseases can result in the immune system attacking the healthy cells and tissues of the body. This can cause bleeding from such tissues leading to formation of petechiae spots.
Treatment of petechiae
The treatment for petechiae is aimed at treating the underlying condition that is responsible for causing the spots. A few treatment methods include:
- Stop the intake of the medication that is causing the allergic reaction and opt for an alternative as per a doctor’s advice
- Infectious conditions causing the petechiae spots are treated with antibiotics
- Injuries to blood capillaries beneath the skin can be treated with application of ice packs
- Low platelet count can be corrected by platelet transfusion
- Cancers and other malignant tumors causing petechiae spots can be treated with surgery, chemotherapy, etc.