Petechiae – Its Definition, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Troubled at the sight of the tiny round red spots in your leg? You may be, in all probability, suffering from Petechiae, a unique medical condition. Read on to know all about Petechiae.

Petechiae Definition

What is Petechiae? It is very easy to define Petechiae. Petechiae are round red spots appearing on the skin. The spots are initially red in color. In later stages, however, they may appear blue or purple in color. A single dot is called Petechia. A cluster of Petechia is known as Petechiae. The condition can apply to any of three purpuric skin ailments.

Petechiae Symptoms

Petechiae are normally accompanied by external symptoms like the appearance of small round dots in the skin. Unlike rashes, which are raised spots on the skin, these are flat. This is because these are not formed over the skin but under it.

The spots are very tiny. Generally, each of them is less than 3 mm in diameter. These do not blanch when they are pressed upon.

In the early stages, the dots are red in color. But in advanced stages, the color can change to blue or purple. The spots generally appear on the leg, but they may get distributed in other parts of the body in later stages.

Image by wikipedia

You can generally find Petechiae on legs and ankle, which are under increased pressure for the most part of the day. But they may also be found in other regions of the human body.

Petechiae and Purpura

People without medical knowledge are often confused if they are suffering from Petechiae or Purpura. Petechiae is generally the name given to red spots that have a diameter equal to or less than 5 mm. Purpura are, however, larger in appearance. They usually have a diameter that is equal to or more than a centimeter. A bigger bloody spot is known as Ecchymosis or common bruise.

Petechiae Causes

The appearance of Petechiae depends on a number of reasons. Some of the causes of Petechiae include


When the capillary blood vessels in the skin suffer a hemorrhage, red blood leaks from them into the skin. These accumulated blood spots are seen as localized dots from the outside.


Trauma or is the most common cause of this condition. Crying, vomiting or violent coughing can lead to facial Petechiae or Petechiae on face, particularly in the area around the eyes.


The condition may also arise if the person having it suffers from low platelet count. This normally happens during an infection or as a side effect of using certain medicines. The platelet function is impaired and it may lead to Petechiae.


Petechiae may also happen if a body tissue comes under excessive pressure, as in case of using a compression bandage.


The condition may also arise if the person has recently suffered from a disease with fever. In such cases, it indicates the presence of bacteria such as Meningococcus in the bloodstream.


The red spots may also develop due to allergic reaction of the body against medications.

Autoimmune diseases

When a person suffers from an autoimmune disorder, the body starts producing antibodies which turn against its own tissues and other naturally present substances. This can lead to a damage of the tissues and leaking of blood.


Medical conditions such as Leukemia or other malignant conditions of the bone marrow can also lead to a reduction in the number of platelets and cause this disorder.

Viral Infections

Infection by virus can sometimes lead to impaired blood clotting and the formation of this syndrome.


Certain drugs like Aspirin, Heparin, Cortisone and Warfarin can also cause this condition.

Medical treatments

The condition may also arise as a side-effect of treatment by radiation and chemotherapy.

Petechiae Treatment

Treatment for Petechiae generally consists of curing the disease that has caused the condition. This includes

Antibiotic Treatment

If the affected person suffers from an infection, an antibiotic dosage may be prescribed by doctors.

Stopping medication

In some cases, the condition is found to result from an allergic reaction of the body to a medication. The drug needs to be immediately stopped in such situations.

Platelet Transfusion

Low platelet count may be the reason behind the appearance of Petechiae in many cases. A transfusion of platelets is highly necessary for treating such patients.


If the patient suffers from a malignant disease like cancer or leukemia, surgery may be necessary in some cases.


Petechiae resulting from injury are not too dangerous and can be treated by pressing the affected area with an ice-pack from time to time. If treated like this, the spots normally take a day or two to vanish after the injury. This is usually a case of mild Petechiae.

Petechiae in Infants

Petechia arises in infants in the US and many other countries across the world. A lot of young children are often seen to display Petechiae symptoms. The reason behind this may be

  • Cerebral malaria
  • Bone-marrow diseases
  • Congenital syphilis
  • Folate deficiency
  • Dengue fever
  • Ebola
  • Hypersplenism
  • Caverous Hemangioma
  • Gardner-Morrison-abbot Syndrome

These ailments are generally found to be the factor behind the appearance of the disorder in Petechiae children. A recent study conducted on 116 English infants showed as many as 16.4% of the participants suffering from the disease. The appearance of Petechiae in young kids may be a sign of any of the aforementioned disorders or other medical problems like bleeding and infection.

Petechiae Prevention

Avoiding Petechiae is generally not possible. As mentioned above, it can be caused by a number of diseases and factors that are not always possible to deduce from before. However, there are certain conditions which can be avoided to keep Petechiae at bay.


Trauma is the cause of Petechiae in many cases. Avoiding trauma can help you prevent the condition.

Avoiding medication

As aforesaid, allergic reaction to some medicines can give rise to Petechiae. Stopping the intake of these medicines can also help the disease to be avoided.

Quick Infection cure

Infection can give rise to Petechiae symptoms. Quick treatment of infections can prevent the rise of Petechiae and other serious conditions like Sepsis.

Picture of Petechiae

Unsure whether the spots on your legs are Petechiae? Here are some Petechiae rash pictures that will help you clear your doubts. Check out these Petechiae photos and know how the condition looks like. You will also find these pictures of Petechiae very useful if you are involved in some kind of medical research about the disease.

Petechia is not a very serious condition in itself. However, it may be a sign of more serious disorders in many cases. This is why you should get the help of a qualified physician and seek medical treatment with the first appearance of the disorder.

2 thoughts on “Petechiae – Its Definition, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

  1. Congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection is another frequent cause of petechie in newborns that was not mentioned in the article. CMV is a very common virus but it can have devastating consequences for unborn babies when their mothers contract it for the first time during pregnancy. These consequences can include eharing loss, vision impairment, cerebral palsy, seizures, developmental delays, and death. Please visit or if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy or know someone who is and would like more information on how to prevent congenital CMV infection.

  2. My daughter was born with petechiae, it was the first sign to her doctor that something was wrong with her. during her newborn screens it was also determined that she had a small head. She was diagnosed with c CMV (congenital Cytomegalo virus) within 24 hours of her birth. The doctors told me with the petechiae and small head is what caused them to so the head ultrasound and thats where they found the calcifications in her brain. With a urine sample, the diagnosos was confirmed. You are leaving out a BIG reason for petechia, and one that SHOULD be on your list!

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