Henoch Schonlein Purpura (HSP): Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

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Most commonly, HSP occurs in children but the disease can affect people of all age groups. This disease involves inflammation of the small blood vessels. Due to the inflammation, blood vessels in the intestines, kidneys, skin and joints start leaking. In this article, we will be discussing the causes, symptoms, diagnosis as well as some of the most commonly asked FAQs.

In this article:

Causes of Henoch-Schönlein Purpura
Symptoms of Henoch-Schönlein Purpura
Diagnosis and Treatment of Henoch-Schönlein Purpura
FAQs related to Henoch-Schönlein Purpura (HSP)

All You Need to Know About Henoch Schonlein Purpura (HSP)

Causes of Henoch Schonlein Purpura

Although the exact cause of HSP is still not known but it is believed that the body’s immune system plays a role in targeting the blood vessels involved. So, in many cases, it may be the abnormal response of the immune system to an infection. Also, in two-thirds of the cases of HSP, it occurs after an upper respiratory tract infection occurs.

henoch schonlein purpura

There have been a few cases of HSP that have been linked to vaccination for cholera, typhoid, yellow fever, hepatitis B or measles and foods, chemicals, drugs and insect bites.

Symptoms of Henoch Schonlein Purpura

Abdominal pain, rash, swelling, joint pain, related kidney disease like blood in the urine are some of the classic symptoms of HSP.

You may also notice two-three weeks of fever, headache, muscular aches and pains before the symptoms begin to take place. Although rare other organs like the brain, lungs or heart may also be affected.

Listed below are a few symptoms of Henoch-Schönlein Purpura:

Rash

Almost all patients with HSP experience rash which at first may resemble hives with small red spots or bumps. These can be on the legs, buttocks, knees and elbows. However, these eventually change to appear more like bruises. Even if you press the rash, it does not turn pale.

Abdominal Pain

Inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract may lead to pain or cramping in more than half of the people with HSV. This can cause vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite and blood in the stool (occasionally). An abnormal folding of the bowel may also lead to bowel blockage in rare cases.

Arthritis

In approximately three-quarters of cases, joint inflammation, including pain and swelling occurs, affecting the knees and ankles, in particular. However, it only lasts for a few days and does not lead to any long term chronic joint issues.

Kidney Impairment

Kidney issues may be caused due to HSP, like signs of protein or blood in the urine. As it does not cause any discomfort, thus it is only discovered on urine testing.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Henoch Schonlein Purpura

It is pretty clear when signs like rash, arthritis and abdominal pain are present. You may also be asked some other tests to confirm the diagnosis and in order to assess the severity.

In case, only a particular symptom like the rash is present, biopsies of the skin or kidney may be present.

Considering the treatment for HSP, over-the-counter medicines like acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen can be used for joint pain. Corticosteroid medication may also be used in some cases.

After four to six weeks, the rash and joint pain will go away without causing any permanent damage. In one-third of the cases, bouts of rash may recur but they usually clear up on their own and are also milder.

FAQs related to Henoch-Schonlein Purpura (HSP)

Is HSP Contagious?

HSP itself isn’t contagious but one may catch an infection that led to someone else’s immune system to respond with HSP. Though, the exact cause of HSP is still not known so it might be triggered by bacterial or viral infections, vaccinations, exposure to cold weather, chemical, etc.

Is HSP Serious?

Although rare, HSV can lead to severe kidney or bowel disease. The disease is more common in children as compared to adults but when it occurs in adults, it is more severe. HSV is self-limited, which is why treatment may not be recommended in all cases.

Is HSP a Lifelong Disease?

The disease can occur anytime in life. Most people do recover from HSP completely but the only long-term complication is kidney damage.

Does HSP Leave Scars?

HSP can rarely leave any scars. The rash usually goes away after a few weeks. In some cases, it may also last for about a few months or longer.

Conclusion

You will be recommended tests by your doctor in case the symptoms indicate Henoch Schonlein Purpura. Apart from that, the rash usually goes away on its own after a few weeks. If you plan on taking over-the-counter medications, do consult your doctor.

References

https://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/diseases/8204/henoch-schonlein-purpura

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