What is Purpura?
Purpura means there is a tendency for the skin to bruise. It’s more likely in children under the age of six years, and often there may have been a tendency to bruise easily with simple knocks. A large number of purpuras exist, and they have a strange variety of names. Basically, the cause is a fault with the clotting mechanism of the blood. This usually involves tiny particles called platelets, which are part of the solid phase of the blood. There may be too few, or the place where they are produced, in the bone marrow, may be diseased.
Sometimes the condition follows a few weeks after a simple infection, often a viral one, or germs collecting in the urinary tract or teeth. There may be bleeding into the skin causing bruising. It may come from the nose, gums or urinary system these are the most common areas. Sometimes bleeding may occur into the bowel or pints or even into the nervous system, hit these are more unlikely. The child may run a fever, appear pale, but this varies. When the blood is examined, there is usually a reduced number of platelets.
It can be a worrying time, and treatment may be needed for many months, often up to six or eight. Blood transfusions are given to restore the platelet count to normal, and these may be repeated depending on the child’s reaction.
Any infection is treated. The child is given a nutritious diet, probably with added vitamins, and the steroid drugs are sometimes used. Every effort is made to avoid injuring the body, for this will aggravate the bruising and bleeding. Certain of the newer drugs may also be used. It depends on the case, and the opinion of the doctors treating it. In continuing cases despite treatment (probably after six to twelve months of active therapy), the spleen, the large organ in the upper abdomen is sometimes surgically removed.
In most cases the results are favourable often with or without treatment, the vast majority of people recover within six months, but some may take longer and cases have continued for three years or more. Occasionally a purpura is fatal, but usually not.