Purpura is purple-colored spots and patches that occur on the skin, and in mucus membranes, including the lining of the mouth.
Purpura occurs when small blood vessels leak blood under the skin.
When purpura spots are less than 3 millimeters in diameter, they are called petechiae. Purpura spots larger than 1 centimeter are called ecchymoses.
Platelets help the blood clot. A person with purpura may have normal platelet counts (nonthrombocytopenic purpuras) or low platelet counts (thrombocytopenic purpuras).
Nonthrombocytopenic purpuras may be due to:
Thrombocytopenic purpura may be due to:
Call your doctor for an appointment if you have signs of purpura.
Your doctor will examine your skin and ask about your medical history and symptoms, including:
A skin biopsy may be done.
Blood spots; Skin hemorrhages
Korman NJ. Macular, papular, vesiculobullous, and pustular diseases. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman’s Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 447.
Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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