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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Petechiae
      Category : Health Centers > Blood Disorders and Lymphatic System


Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Petechiae are pinpoint-sized hemorrhages of small capillaries in the skin or mucous membranes.

What is going on in the body?

Petechiae result from tiny areas of superficial bleeding into the skin. They appear as round, pinpoint-sized dots that are not raised. The color varies from red to blue or purple as they age and gradually disappear. Petechiae commonly appear on the lower legs, but may be distributed all over the body.

What are the causes and risks of the disease?

There are many possible causes of petechiae. Common causes include:

  • injury or trauma
  • allergic reactions to medications
  • autoimmune disorders, which are conditions in which the person's body creates antibodies to its own tissues for unknown reasons
  • liver disorders, such as cirrhosis
  • infections, such as mononucleosis and endocarditis
  • bone marrow disorders, such as leukemia
  • thrombocytopenia, a deficiency of platelets
  • nutritional deficiencies, such as a deficiency in vitamins C, K, or B12, or folic acid
  • medications, such as blood thinners
  • recent blood transfusions
  • medical treatment, such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy for cancer
  • birth, due to the pressure changes caused by vaginal delivery
  • aging skin
  • sepsis, or blood infection
  • violent vomiting or coughing
  • There may be other causes of petechiae.


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    Petechiae: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Gail Hendrickson, RN, BS
    Reviewer: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 07/27/01

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