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Henoch-Schonlein purpura

Henoch-Schonlein purpura is a disease that involves purple spots on the skin, joint pain, gastrointestinal problems, and glomerulonephritis (a type of kidney disorder).

Alternative Names

Anaphylactoid purpura; Vascular purpura; Leukocytoclastic vasculitis

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Henoch-Schonlein is caused by an abnormal response of the immune system. It is unclear why this occurs.

The syndrome is mostly seen in children, but it may affect people of any age. It is more common in boys than in girls. Many people who develop this disease had an upper respiratory infection in the weeks before.

Symptoms

Signs and tests

The doctor will look at your body and look at your skin. The physical exam will show skin sores (purpura, lesions) and joint tenderness.

Tests may include:

Treatment

There is no specific treatment. Most cases go away on their own. If symptoms do not go away, your doctor may prescribe corticosteroid medicine such as prednisone.

Expectations (prognosis)

The disease usually gets better on its own.

Complications

  • Bleeding inside the body
  • Kidney problems (in rare cases)

Calling your health care provider

Call your health care provider if:

  • You develop symptoms of Henoch-Schonlein purpura, particularly if they last for more than a few days
  • You have low urine output after an episode of Henoch-Schonlein purpura

References

Ardoin SP, Fels E. Vasculitis syndromes. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 161.

Updated: 4/20/2013

Gordon A. Starkebaum, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.


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