Henoch-Schoenlein purpura (HSP) is a disease that causes bleeding from small, inflamed blood vessels into the skin. The bleeding causes a red or purple rash called purpura.
Inflammation (swelling) in the blood vessels causes the symptoms. Doctors don’t know what causes the swelling. It may be a response to infection. The illness is often seen in children who had a cold a few weeks earlier. The antibodies made by the body to fight the cold may keep attacking other cells in the body. Other theories are that medicines, insect bites, cold temperatures, chemicals, or some foods are related to the cause. No one knows for certain.
HSP is not an inherited disease, and it is not contagious.
The main symptom is a rash. The rash is often on the buttocks and legs. The rash may first look like hives, but usually it changes to purplish or brownish bruises within 1 to 2 days. There is almost always some rash on the ankles.
HSP may affect other parts of the body as well as the skin. Some of the other symptoms it may cause are:
Your healthcare provider will examine your child. Your child may have one or more tests, such as:
There is no medicine that will cure this illness. There is no way to predict who will get HSP and no way to prevent it. In most cases, HSP lasts 4 to 6 weeks, and doesn’t cause any lasting problems. Symptoms may come and go during this time. The older your child is, the more likely it is that he or she will have the symptoms again. Your child will eventually get better on his or her own.
Your child's healthcare provider may prescribe a steroid medicine, such as prednisone, to reduce inflammation in the intestine. The steroid may help control pain and bleeding in the bowel.
Most children recover from HSP completely and have no further problems. In rare cases, it may affect the kidneys. Your child will need to see your healthcare provider for blood pressure checks and urine tests every 1 to 2 months over the next 2 years to check the kidneys.
You can help relieve your child's symptoms with:
Diet and nutrition have not been shown to contribute to or prevent HSP.
Ask your healthcare provider:
Make sure you know when you should bring your child back for a checkup.