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Know the basics

What is henoch-schonlein purpura?

Henoch–Schonlein purpura (HSP) is an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation and bleeding in the small blood vessels in your skin, joints, intestines and kidneys.

This inflammation, called vasculistis, can cause blood vessels of your organs to leek, which will lead to several symptoms.

How common is henoch-schonlein purpura?

Henoch–Schonlein purpura is most common in children between the age of 2 and 11, although it can affect patients at any age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Know the symptoms

What are the symptoms of henoch-schonlein purpura?

The common symptoms of Henoch–Schonlein purpura are:

  • Rash (purpura): reddish–purple symmetrical spots, usually found on the back, buttocks, upper extremities, and upper thighs in young children or on the ankles and lower legs in older children and adults.  This is the most classic and universal sign of Henoch–Schonlein purpura.
  • Swollen, sore joints (arthritis): people with HSP often suffer from joints inflammation, involving pain and swelling – mainly in the knees and ankles. Joint pain sometimes precedes the classical rash by one or two days but they will go away and do not cause any chronic problems.
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms: abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting or bloody stools are likely to occur before the rash appears.
  • Kidney involvement: small amount of blood and protein can be found in urine since kidney are affected.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

In some cases, Henoch–Schonlein purpura causes serious problems of the bowel or kidneys. See your doctor as soon as possible if you or your child develops the distinctive rash associated with Henoch–Schonlein purpura.

Know the causes

What causes henoch-schonlein purpura?

In Henoch–Schonlein purpura, some of the body’s small blood vessels become inflamed, which can cause bleeding in the skin, joints, abdomen and kidneys. Why this development of initial inflammation is not clear, although it may be the result of an abnormal immune system response in which the body’s immune system attacks the body’s own cells and organs.

Nearly 30 to 50 percent of the cases with HSP develop the disease after an upper respiratory infection, such as a cold, with an onset of about 10 days. Infectious triggers may include chickenpox, strep throat, measles and hepatitis. Other triggers may include certain medications, food, insect bites or exposure to cold weather.

Know the risk factors

What increases my risk for henoch-schonlein purpura?

There are many risk factors for Henoch–Schonlein purpura, such as:

  • Age: the disease affects primarily children and young adults with the majority of cases occurring in children between 2 and 6 years of age.
  • Sex: Henoch–Schonlein purpura is slightly more common in boys than girls.
  • Race: white and Asian children are more likely to develop Henoch–Schonlein purpura than black children are.
  • Time of year: Henoch–Schonlein purpura strikes mainly in autumn, winter and spring but rarely in summer.

Understand the diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is henoch-schonlein purpura diagnosed?

HSP can be easily diagnosed when all the typical symptoms are present.

Lab tests

Although no single test can confirm Henoch–Schonlein purpura, certain tests can help rule out other diseases and make a diagnosis of Henoch–Schonlein seem likely. They may include:

  • Blood tests: people who have Henoch–Schonlein purpura often have abnormal levels of a particular type of antibody in their blood.
  • Urine tests: performed to check the renal function.

Biopsies

In case the symptoms are not clear, your doctor might need to order biopsies of skin or kidney.

Imaging tests

Your doctor may recommend an ultrasound to rule out other causes of abdominal pain and to check for possible complications, such as a bowel obstruction.

How is henoch-schonlein purpura treated?

HSP will go away on its own without treatment after a month. Some palliative treatments that your doctor might order are:

Medications

The use of powerful corticosteroids, such as prednisone, which treat gastrointestinal symptoms or severs kidney disease is still controversial as they can have serious side effects and their usefulness is not clear.

Anti–inflammation (NSAIDs) can be used to relieve the pain and swelling of joints.

Pain killers can also help with managing the pain. Antibiotics may be added if there is any infection.

Surgery

If the section of bowel has folded in upon itself or ruptured, surgical repair will be necessary.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage henoch-schonlein purpura?

Children and adults with mild Henoch–Schonlein purpura should be kept comfortable while the disease runs its course. Bed rest, plenty of fluids and over–the–counter pain relievers may help.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: January 4, 2017 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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