Petechial Rash 

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What is a petechial rash?


A petechial rash is sometimes referred to as a purpuric rash, petechiae rash, or plural petechiae. The rash is basically a number of small red or purple spots in the skin. The size of the spots is on average 1 to 2 mm or about one half inch or less. As a quick test, if you apply pressure to the skin in the area of the spots and the spots remain or in other words do not whiten with the applied pressure, then the rash is likely of this type.

What causes a petechial or purpuric rash?

There are several causes that can lead to the formation of a petechial skin rash. It may be caused by minor trauma to the skin, leading to some hemorrhaging under the skin’s surface. The hemorrhaging is simply damage to the capillary blood vessels in the skin. This trauma may also be in other forms. For example, the exertion of vomiting or violent coughing or even intense crying can lead to petechiae, especially in the facial region and upper chest. Tight clothing on skin as well as standard viral infections can lead to a petechia rash. The above rashes are generally harmless and usually disappear in a couple of days.

However, a petechial or purpuric rash may be a sign of a more serious health problem. A purpuric rash can be an indication of low platelet counts in the blood. This health condition would occur if an individual is suffering from leukemia or other health condition that affects the clotting of the blood. A severe infection such as a meningococal infection can cause this type of rash as well. Thrombocytopenia (or low platelet count which can be caused by a number of different conditions) is another reason for this type of skin rash.

For the above reasons, if a petechial or purpuric rash is present, serious consideration should be given to obtaining medical attention immediately. Medical experts will be able to identify if the petechial rash is due to a serious medical condition or not.

The pictures of skin rashes page provides more skin rash information.

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