Henoch-Schönlein Purpura (HSP)
What is Henoch-Schönlein purpura (HSP)?
Henoch-Schönlein purpura (HSP) is a form of vasculitis, a condition which involves inflammation of the blood vessels. It is one of the most common forms of vasculitis in childhood. HSP is seen most frequently in children between the ages of two and 11 years, and occurs more frequently in boys. A family connection has been noted with HSP, where the disease has happened to two or more siblings of the same family, either at the same time, or one after another.
What causes Henoch-Schönlein purpura?
As with the other forms of vasculitis, the cause of HSP is not known. HSP may be associated with an upper respiratory tract infection or possibly an allergic reaction. Most children with HSP recover completely.
What are the symptoms of Henoch-Schönlein purpura?
The following are the most common symptoms of Henoch-Schönlein purpura. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
Purpura--hemorrhage (bleeding) into the skin, mucous membranes, internal organs, and other tissues
Arthralgia--pain in the joints
Inflammation of the joints
Gastrointestinal bleeding--bleeding in the gastrointestinal, or GI, tract, which includes the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and intestines
Nephritis--inflammation of the kidneys
Subcutaneous edema--swelling just below the skin
Encephalopathy--dysfunction of the brain
Orchitis--inflammation of the testicle(s)
The symptoms of Henoch-Schönlein purpura may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.
How is Henoch-Schönlein purpura diagnosed?
Henoch-Schönlein purpura is usually diagnosed based on a typical clinical presentation. These criteria include:
Palpable purpura--hemorrhage (bleeding) into the skin or mucous membranes and other tissues
If the presentation is not typical, a biopsy of the involved area may be required. In addition, ultrasound (a diagnostic imaging technique which uses high-frequency sound waves and a computer to create images of blood vessels, tissues, and organs) may be used to examine the gastrointestinal tract for presence of the disease.
Treatment for Henoch-Schönlein purpura
Specific treatment for Henoch-Schönlein purpura will be determined by your child's physician based on:
Your child's overall health and medical history
Extent of the condition
Your child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures, and therapies
Expectation for the course of the disease
Specific organs that are affected
Your opinion or preference
Treatments for HSP may include:
Adequate hydration, or fluid intake
Careful attention to nutrition
Pain control with medications such as acetaminophen
Glucocorticoids (to control inflammation)