Henoch-Schonlein Purpura

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Henoch-Schonlein Purpura (HSP) causes the blood vessels in your skin to get irritated and swollen. This inflammation is called vasculitis. When the blood vessels in your skin get inflamed, they can bleed, causing a rash that is called purpura. HSP can also affect blood vessels in the bowel and the kidneys. When this happens, the intestines and the kidneys may also bleed.

There are three primary signs and symptoms of Henoch-Schonlein purpura, although not everyone with the disease develops all three. They are:

  • Rash Reddish-purple spots, which may look like bruises or be raised, occur in almost all cases. The rash usually appears on your child's buttocks, around elbows, and on legs and feet, although it may show up on the face and on other parts of your child's skin.

  • Swollen, sore joints Knees and ankles are most commonly affected. Joint symptoms affect 60 percent to 80 percent of those with Henoch-Schonlein purpura. The arthritis resolves with no permanent damage when the disease clears up.

  • Abdominal pain About half of people with Henoch-Schonlein purpura develop gastrointestinal signs and symptoms, usually about eight days after the appearance of the rash. The most common is abdominal pain, which may be severe. Other gastrointestinal signs and symptoms may include nausea, vomiting and bloody stools or urine.

  • Causes:
    The exact cause of HSP is unknown. Doctors think HSP occurs when a person's immune system doesn't fight an infection like it's supposed to. It might be triggered by bacterial or viral infections, medicines, insect bites, vaccinations or exposure to chemicals or cold weather. You may catch an infection that caused someone's immune system to respond with HSP, but HSP itself isn't contagious. Doctors don't know how to prevent HSP yet.

    HSP occurs most often in children from 2 to 11 years of age, but it may affect people of any age.

    There is no specific treatment for HSP. Medicines can help you feel better and treat an infection that may have triggered HSP. Fortunately, HSP usually gets better without any treatment. Anti-inflammatory medicines, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve), can help the pain in your joints. Sometimes medicines like prednisone can help people with severe joint and stomach pain.

    Usually, HSP gets better on its own and doesn't cause lasting problems. About half of the people who have had HSP once will get it again. A few people will have kidney damage because of HSP. Your doctor may want to check urine samples several times after your HSP goes away to check for kidney problems. Be sure to see your doctor regularly during this time.

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