A petechia is a small (1 – 2 mm) red or purple spot on the skin or conjunctiva, caused by a minor bleed from broken capillary blood vessels. The word is derived from Latin 'petigo', meaning ‘scab' or 'eruption’.
|Petechia and purpura on the low limb due to medication-induced vasculitis|
Petechia refers to one of the three descriptive types hematomas differentiated by size, the other two being ecchymosis and purpura. Ecchymosis is defined as hematomas larger than 1 centimetre and purpura as 1-5 millimetres.
The term is almost always used in the plural, since a single lesion is seldom noticed or significant.
- Coughing, holding breath, vomiting, crying - The most common cause of petechiae is through physical trauma such as a hard bout of coughing, holding breath, vomiting, or crying, which can result in facial petechiae, especially around the eyes. Such instances are harmless and usually disappear within a few days.
- Constriction, Asphyxiation - Petechiae may also occur when excessive pressure is applied to tissue (e.g., when a tourniquet is applied to an extremity or with excessive coughing or vomiting).
- Sunburn, childbirth, weightlifting
- Gua Sha, a Chinese treatment that scrapes the skin
- High-G training
- Choking Game
- Oral sex
- Vitamin C deficiency, scurvy
- Vitamin K deficiency
- Thrombocytopenia - Low platelet counts or diminished platelet function (e.g., as a side effect of medications or during certain infections) can give rise to petechial spots
- clotting factor deficiencies - (Von Willebrand disease)
- Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura
- Coeliac disease
- Aplastic anaemia
- Kwashiorkor or Marasmus - Childhood protein-energy malnutrition
- Erythroblastosis fetalis
- Henoch–Schönlein purpura
- Kawasaki disease
- Schamberg's disease
- Ehlers–Danlos syndrome
- Sjögren's Syndrome - Petechial spots could occur due to vasculitis, an inflammation of the blood vessels. In such a case immediate treatment is needed to prevent permanent damage. Some malignancies can also cause petechiae to appear.
- Bolivian hemorrhagic fever
- Boutonneuse fever
- Cerebral malaria
- Congenital syphilis
- Crimean–Congo hemorrhagic fever
- Dengue fever
- Dukes' disease
- Influenza A virus subtype H1N1
- Infectious mononucleosis
- Marburg virus
- Neisseria meningitidis - Petechiae in children can occur with viral infections. In such cases, they do not necessarily signify something serious. However, potentially serious illnesses, such as meningococcemia can cause death within 48 hours of infection and therefore, their presence should not be ignored.
- Rocky Mountain spotted fever
- Scarlet fever
- Streptococcal pharyngitis soft palate are mainly associated with streptococcal pharyngitis, and as such it is an uncommon but highly specific finding.
Petechiae on the face and conjunctiva (eyes) can be a sign of a death by asphyxiation, particularly when involving reduced venous return from the head (such as in strangulation). Petechiae are thought to result from an increase of pressure in the veins of the head and hypoxic damage to endothelia of blood vessels.
Petechiae can be used by police investigators in determining if strangulation has been part of an attack. The documentation of the presence of petechiae on a victim can help police investigators prove the case. Petechiae resulting from strangulation can be relatively tiny and light in color to very bright and pronounced. Petechiae may be seen on the face, in the whites of the eyes or on the inside of the eyelids.
- Robbins Basic Pathology. Kumar, Vinay, 1944-, Abbas, Abul K.,, Aster, Jon C.,, Perkins, James A., (10th ed.). Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 2017. p. 101. ISBN 9780323353175. OCLC 960844656.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link) CS1 maint: others (link)
- McKenzie, Shirlyn B., (2014). Clinical Laboratory Hematology. Williams, Joanne Lynne, 1949-, Landis-Piwowar, Kristin, (3rd ed.). Boston. p. 665. ISBN 9780133076011. OCLC 878098857.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link) CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
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