Dr. MJ Bazos, Patient
What is Henoch-Schönlein
Henoch-Schönlein purpura (say "hen-awk
shern-line purr-purr-ah") causes blood vessels to get inflamed (irritated and
swollen). This inflammation is called vasculitis. It usually affects the small
blood vessels in the skin (called capillaries). It can also affect blood vessels
in the bowel and the kidneys. When the blood vessels get inflamed, they can
bleed into the skin, causing a rash that is called purpura. The intestines and
the kidneys may also bleed.
HSP is caused when a person's immune system
doesn't fight an infection like it's supposed to. It occurs most often in the
spring and fall, usually after an upper respiratory infection, such as a cold.
HSP occurs most often in children from 2 to 11 years of age, but it can occur in
anyone. Its exact cause is unknown. It might be triggered by bacterial or viral
infections, medicines, insect bites, vaccinations or exposure to chemicals or
cold weather. You may catch an infection that caused someone's immune system to
respond with HSP, but HSP itself isn't contagious. Doctors don't know how to
prevent HSP yet.
What are the symptoms of
HSP causes a skin rash, pain in the joints (such
as the knees and ankles) and stomach pain. The rash looks like small bruises or
small reddish-purple spots. It's usually on the buttocks, around the elbows and
on the legs. HSP can also cause fever, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The
symptoms usually last for about 4 to 6 weeks. If the blood vessels in the bowel
and the kidneys get inflamed, HSP can make you bleed when you have a bowel
movement or when you urinate. Serious kidney problems don't happen very often,
but they can occur. In rare cases, an abnormal folding of the bowel called
intussusception (say "in-tuh-suh-sep-shun") can occur. This makes a blockage in
your intestines that may need surgery.
How is HSP
There is no specific treatment for HSP.
Medicines can help you feel better and treat an infection that may have
triggered HSP. Fortunately, HSP usually gets better without any treatment.
Anti-inflammatory medicines, such as ibuprofen (brand names: Advil, Motrin,
Nuprin) or naproxen (brand name: Aleve), can help the pain in your joints.
Sometimes medicines like prednisone can help people with severe joint and
What happens to people with
Most people do fine. Usually, HSP gets better on
its own and doesn't cause lasting problems. About half of the people who have
had HSP once will get it again. A few people will have kidney damage because of
HSP. Your doctor may want to check urine samples several times after your HSP
goes away to check for kidney problems. Be sure to see your doctor as many times
as he or she tells you to.