Petechiae are small round blotches appearing on skin. Petechiae are pinpoint and appear as spots on skin, and they may be reddish or purple in color. These spots are as a result of some minor hemorrhage. Petechiae may appear like some rash but they usually emerge in clusters. Petechiae spots may appear on skin especially on legs though they can spread to other parts. They are mostly harmless and they disappear on their own without needing treatment in just a few days.
However, when you have other symptoms or the petechiae do not disappear and continue to persist for long, you may need to seek of a medical help. Petechiae on legs may be caused by bleeding, and it is the bleeding, which makes these spots to appear brown, reddish, or purple in color. When they appear in clusters, they may look like you have a rash on legs.
Petechiae on legs or other parts of body usually feel flat when you touch them, and do not lose color when they are put under pressure. For instance, they will not lose their color after pressing them. At times, petechiae can appear in parts such as the eyelids or the mouth. Petechiae are mainly caused by small local bleeding in skin.
When you have deeper bleeding beneath skin, this may appear as bruises. You may differentiate petechiae from abnormally prominent blood vessel by applying pressure to the spot. When the red spot is due to abnormal blood vessel, usually the redness will disappear temporarily but with petechiae, the reddish color doesn’t disappear when you put pressure on the spot.
Petechiae that appear during illness may be seen as a different story. Presence of bacteria in blood vessels particularly Meningococcus, which causes spinal meningitis may present in form of petechiae. A medical attention is needed when such petechiae is witnessed in a child or person because it could signal a very dangerous case of sepsis even if a child does not look ill at all.
Causes of petechiae on legs
Petechiae rashes or spots may occur due to different causes including trauma, pressure, allergy, and hemorrhage. Trauma is considered the main cause of petechiae spots on legs or other parts of body. Applying excessive pressure could cause the body tissue to experience stress that causes the spots to appear.
When blood capillaries on skin suffer an injury, it could result in hemorrhage. When red blood cells leak from capillaries, they can accumulate under skin especially if there is no opening or cut under the skin surface. Certain medications may result in allergic reactions, which cause petechiae to occur on skin.
People who have fever are likely to develop the splotches. The cause of such splotches is usually mainly associated with presence of Meningococcus bacterium in bloodstream. Leukemia and bone marrow cancer are life-threatening disorders, which may cause low platelet count and are considered a major cause of petechiae.
Medications may cause side effects, which induce petechiae. For example, medicines like aspirin, warfarin, heparin, and cortisone are associated with petechiae. Adverse effects of radiation and chemotherapy are also possible causes of these splotches.
Thrombocytopenia, a disease that arises due to lower amounts of platelet in body is another cause of petechiae. Thrombocytopenia may occur due to side effects caused by medicines you take or when one has an infection. The function of platelets becomes impaired leading to the rash. Other causes of petechiae are viral infections and autoimmune diseases.
Symptoms of petechiae on legs
When petechiae rash first occurs, it presents in a red color but gradually begins to change to bluish or purple. In its final stages, petechiae spots turn dark blue or attain a dark purple appearance. The size of the spots is about one to two millimeters and even in the later stages, they are no more than 0.5 cm in size.
While the rashes first may occur on legs, they may later be found in other parts of body such as the thigh, ankles, shoulders, face, and back. Facial petechiae are mainly caused by coughing, crying, or vomiting and they lead to formation of red spots over the facial skin. In the face, the spots arise in the area surrounding the eyes.
Main symptoms of petechiae are skin spots appearing reddish on the skin surface of legs or other parts. They are flat and not usually elevated as in the case of rashes. The flatness is because these spots occur under skin surface and when they are pressed on, they do not blanch or change color.
The color of the spots often chances from red to brown and then to purple. At times, because of oxidation of blood, the spots or splotches may appear dark purple or brown. In the initial stages, the blotches occur individually but with time, as more of the spots form, they tend to cluster together.
Treatment of petechiae on legs
Treatment is aimed at treating the underlying cause for these blotches. In case they are occurring due to medication, a patient may need to see a doctor. The medication may be stopped if it is causing allergy reactions or the dosage may be altered.
One may use antibiotics when the cause is associated with an infection. Surgery may be necessary if petechiae is caused by malignant conditions like cancer or leukemia. Other treatment methods are platelet transfusion and use of ice if they blotches are due to injuries to blood capillaries.