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Condition. Henoch-Schonlein purpura

By Editorial Team (A)
November 23, 2021

Henoch-Schonlein purpura is a condition characterized by bleeding and inflammation in the small blood vessels of the joints, skin, kidneys, and intestines.

The disorder’s most common and striking feature is the purplish-colored rash (purpura) that often appears on the buttocks and lower legs. Henoch-Schonlein purpura may also cause the joints to be painful, and another symptom is sometimes pain in the abdomen. In rare cases of Henoch-Schonlein purpura, severe damage to the kidneys occurs.

Henoch-Schonlein purpura can occur in patients of any age, but it typically affects children from 2 and 6 years old. It usually resolves on its own. However, medical treatment is needed if Henoch-Schonlein purpura involves kidney function.

Henoch-Schonlein purpura causes

What causes the initial inflammation of the blood vessels that occurs in Henoch-Schonlein purpura is unknown. However, it may be related to the body’s immune system reacting to specific triggers. This inflammation in certain small blood vessels leads to bleeding in the joints, skin, kidneys, and abdomen.

In almost half of the cases of Henoch-Schonlein purpura, it developed after a cold or other infection of the upper respiratory tract. Besides cold, other infections that trigger Henoch-Schonlein purpura can include measles, chickenpox, hepatitis, and strep throat. Non-infectious triggers can be foods, medications, exposure to cold weather, or insect bites.

Henoch-Schonlein purpura risk factors

Certain factors can increase the risk of the development of Henoch-Schonlein purpura. These may include:

  • Age. The condition affects primarily young children, typically between the ages of 2 and 6 years. Young adults are also sometimes affected. 
  • Gender: Henoch-Schonlein purpura is slightly more likely to occur in males than in females.
  • Race. Asian and white children are at higher risk of developing Henoch-Schonlein purpura than black children.
  • Season of the year. The occurrence of Henoch-Schonlein purpura increases in the spring, autumn, and winter. It rarely is seen in the summertime. 

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