Henoch Schonlein Purpura: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment


Henoch-Schonlein purpura (HSP) is a disease that causes red spots on the skin. This disease can lead to serious complications such as kidney disease. Read more about the symptoms, causes, and treatment in the review below.

What is Henoch-Schonlein Purpura ?

Henoch-Schonlein purpura is a disorder that causes inflammation of small blood vessels. This inflammation can occur in the skin, intestines, kidneys, and joints. This condition can cause small red spots on the skin of the lower body.

HSP can happen to anyone, but is most common in children under 10 years of age. Boys are more likely to develop HSP than girls. Adults with HSP are more likely to have the disease more severe than children.

The condition usually gets better on its own, usually ending after 4 to 6 weeks. However, medical treatment is generally required if the disorder affects the kidneys or intestines.

Symptoms of Henoch-Schonlein Purpura

Before the main symptoms occur, people with HSP may have a fever for 2 to 3 weeks, headache, muscle aches, and joint pain. A rare symptom is involvement of other organs, such as the brain, heart, or lungs.

The following are some of the common symptoms of HSP, including:

1. Rash

The rash usually appears in all patients with HSP disease. Initial appearance of small red spots or bumps under the feet, buttocks, knees, and elbows, which tend to look like bruises.

The rash usually occurs on both sides of the body equally and is not pale when pressed.

2. Joint Inflammation

Inflammation involving pain and swelling in the joints occurs in some cases, particularly affecting the knees and ankles.

Joint inflammation usually lasts only a few days and does not cause long-term chronic joint problems.

3. Stomach ache

In some cases, patients may experience abdominal pain before the rash appears. Sometimes, abnormal folding of the intestines (intussusception) can cause intestinal obstruction, which may require surgery to correct the condition.

This condition can also cause loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and sometimes blood in the stool.

4. Kidney problems

HSP disease can cause kidney problems, characterized by symptoms such as protein or blood in the urine. This is usually found when you have a urine test.

Therefore, it is very important to monitor kidney disorders closely and confirm their condition, because about 5 percent of patients can develop progressive kidney disease. Meanwhile, about 1 percent can continue to develop kidney failure.

When is the Right Time to Go to the Doctor?

See a doctor immediately if you develop a rash that is associated with this condition and causes serious problems in the digestive tract. Get medical help as soon as possible.

Causes of Henoch-Schonlein Purpura

The exact cause of HSP is not known. However, the immune system (autoimmune) is believed to play a role in targeting the blood vessels involved.

An abnormal immune response to infection can be a factor in many cases. About two-thirds of cases of HSP occur after a person has a respiratory infection.

Some cases of HSP have been linked to vaccination for typhoid, cholera, yellow fever, measles, or hepatitis B. The condition is also often associated with cold weather.

HSP Disease Risk Factors

A number of factors can increase a person’s risk of developing Henoch Schonlein purpura, including:

  • Age. This disease is common in children aged 2 to 6 years and young adults.
  • Gender. HSP is slightly more common in boys than girls.
  • Race. White and Asian children are more likely to develop HSP than black children.
  • Season. This condition is more common in fall, winter, and spring, and rarely occurs in summer.

Diagnosis Henoch-Schonlein Purpura

Your doctor may suggest several tests to rule out other diagnoses and assess their severity. Sometimes, if the only symptom is the classic rash, the doctor may perform a skin or kidney biopsy.

Urine and blood tests may be done to detect signs of kidney involvement, and may need to be repeated several times to monitor changes in kidney function.

Henoch-Schonlein Purpura Treatment

Although there is no specific treatment for this disease, you can use pain medications, such as acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen for joint pain. In some cases, corticosteroid medications may be used.

The rash and joint pain usually go away after four to six weeks without causing permanent damage. In some cases, the rash may recur but does not cause joint and stomach problems; and will heal by itself.

Complications of Henoch-Schonlein Purpura

In general, symptoms will improve within a month without leaving any lasting problems. But relapse is quite common.

The following complications are associated with HSP, including:

  • Intestinal obstruction . In rare cases, HSP can cause intussusception, a condition in which part of the intestine folds into another part of the intestine.
  • Kidney damage . This risk is higher in adults than in children. Sometimes the damage is severe enough that dialysis or a kidney transplant is required.

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