Henoch-Schonlein Purpura (HSP, IgA vasculitis)

Henoch-Schonlein Purpura is an inflammation of small blood vessels in the skin and the body’s internal organs. Henoch-Schonlein’s purple is also commonly called HSP or IgA vasculitis.

HSP occurs mainly in children aged four to ten years, but even adults and young people can get it in exceptional cases. The disease is more common in boys than in girls and often occurs after a cold infection. HSP is more common in autumn and winter. The medical term “vasculitis” means inflammation of blood vessels. HSP is the most common type of vasculitis in children. Henoch-Schonlein Purpura is more serious when it affects adults because adults are more easily affected by complications.

Symptoms of Henoch-Schonlein Purpura

Some typical symptoms of HSP are:

  • Raised small rash
  • Fever
  • General feeling of illness
  • Swelling
  • Joint pain (often in knee or foot joints)
  • abdominal pains
  • vomiting
  • Blood in the urine (if affected by the kidneys)

The most common symptom of HSP is the characteristic rashes. Purpura looks much like raised small bruises. They usually occur on the legs, the tail and the arms. Purpura can also occur on the face. Because HSP can affect the stomach, intestines and kidneys, the disease can lead to stomach pain, vomiting and a little blood in the urine. Joint pain is another symptom.

Causes of Henoch-Schonlein Purpura

The underlying causes of Henoch-Schonlein Purpura are not clear. In most cases, HSP is triggered after having a cold or some other type of infection. The symptoms of HSP usually come a few weeks after the initial cold. Some other factors that may lead to HSP are medication, cold and chemical agents. Some people who get HSP have kidney inflammation (glomerulonephritis) before.

Examination and diagnosis

When making the diagnosis, the findings that the physician makes during the body examination are usually compiled with laboratory samples. Urine tests are also usually taken. In kidney surgery, you may need to take a tissue sample, a so-called biopsy. There is no blood test that can determine the diagnosis of Henoch-Schonlein’s purple on its own.

Treatment of Henoch-Schonlein Purpura

In most cases of HSP you recover without treatment yourself. Painkillers may be needed for the symptoms. It is good to relieve the joints that you have suffered as a result of the disease. The joint problems usually disappear within a week, but the other symptoms can persist for up to two months. In bacterial infections as a precursor to the disease, antibiotics can be applied to the bacteria. In some cases, you may need to be treated with cortisone or anti-cellulite drugs. If the kidneys are affected by the disease, you may need to be hospitalized for a period of time.
If recovered from HSP there is a risk that the disease will return. Most relapses occur within the first two years after the first inflammation.

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