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A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia [Internet]. Atlanta (GA): A.D.A.M.; 2013.

A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia.

Henoch-Schonlein purpura

Anaphylactoid purpura; Vascular purpura; Leukocytoclastic vasculitis

Last reviewed: April 20, 2013.

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

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

  1. 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.

Review Date: 4/20/2013.

Reviewed by: 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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Copyright © 2013, A.D.A.M., Inc.

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (www.hon.ch).

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only — they do not constitute endorsementscof those other sites. © 1997–2011 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

Copyright © 2013, A.D.A.M., Inc.

What works?

  • Interventions to prevent or treat serious kidney disease in patients with Henoch‐Schönlein Purpura
    Henoch‐Schönlein Purpura (HSP) causes inflammation of small blood vessels in children and affects approximately 20/100,000 children annually. Symptoms and signs include a purpuric skin rash (which comprises small spots and larger bruises), abdominal pain, gastrointestinal bleeding, joint pain and swelling, facial swelling and evidence of kidney disease with blood and protein in the urine. Kidney disease occurs in about one third of children with HSP. In the majority this is mild (small amounts of blood in the urine only) and resolves completely but a few children have persistent kidney disease that can progress to kidney failure. Treatments with medications that suppress the immune system (prednisone) and treatments to prevent blood clotting (aspirin, heparin) have been administered to children at diagnosis to prevent serious kidney disease. Also treatments which suppress the immune system (prednisone, methylprednisolone, cyclophosphamide and cyclosporin) have been used in an attempt to treat serious kidney disease in HSP and prevent progression to kidney failure.
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Figures

  • Henoch-Schonlein purpura on the lower legs.
    Henoch-Schonlein purpura.
    Henoch-Schonlein purpura.
    Henoch-Schonlein purpura.
    Henoch-Schonlein purpura on an infant's foot.
    Henoch-Schonlein purpura on an infant's legs.
    Henoch-Schonlein purpura on an infant's legs.
    Henoch-Schonlein purpura on the legs.

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