Henoch-Schonlein purpura (HSP) is inflammation of the blood vessels in the skin and other body organs. When it involves the skin, it causes a telltale rash. The rash looks like bruising or small dots in the skin, referred to as purpura.
HSP is caused by an abnormal reaction of the immune system. Normally, the immune system marks and attacks foreign items like viruses and bacteria. However, with HSP, the immune system attacks the blood vessels. It is not clear why the immune system attacks the body.
The change in the immune system may be triggered by:
HSP occurs most often after a respiratory infection. HSP is not contagious.
HSP is most common in children aged 2 to 11 years old, but it can occur at any age. Factors that increase your risk of HSP include:
Symptoms may last for 4 to 6 weeks and may include:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Your bodily fluids, tissues, and waste may be tested. This can be done with:
HSP usually gets better on its own. Your doctor may prescribe medications if symptoms or complications are causing problems. Medications may include:
American Academy of Family Physicians
American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association
Caring for Kids
College of Family Physicians of Canada
Dillon MJ. Henoch-Schonlein purpura (treatment and outcome). Cleve Clin J Med. 2002;69(Suppl 2):SII121-SII123.
Henoch-Schonlein purpura. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease website. Updated September 7, 2012. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/henoch-schonlein-purpura.html. Accessed November 13, 2012.
Henoch-Schonlein purpura. National Institute of Health Office of Rare Disease Research website. Available at: http://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/GARD/Condition/8204/HenochSchonlein_purpura.aspx/Print. Accessed August 6, 2013.
Kraft D, McKee D, et al. Henoch-Schonlein purpura: a review. Am Fam Physician. 1998 Aug 1;58(2):405-408. Available at: http://www.aafp.org/afp/1998/0801/p405.html. Accessed November 13, 2012.
Ronkainen J, Koskimies O, et al. Early prednisone therapy in Henoch-Schonlein purpura: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. J Pediatr. 2006;149:241-247.
Saulsbury FT. Epidemiology of Henoch-Schonlein purpura. Cleve Clin J Med. 2002;69(Suppl 2):SII87-SII89.
Last reviewed August 2013 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.