Tiny blood vessels (capillaries) link the smallest parts of your arteries to the smallest parts of your veins. Petechiae appear when capillaries bleed, leaking blood into the skin. A number of things — including prolonged straining, certain medical conditions, specific types of injuries and some medications — can cause this bleeding.

Prolonged straining
Tiny petechiae of the face, neck and chest can be caused by prolonged straining during activities such as:

  • Crying
  • Coughing
  • Vomiting
  • Childbirth
  • Weightlifting

Certain medications
Some types of medications can result in petechiae, including:

  • Aspirin
  • Atropine (Atropen)
  • Carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Epitol, Tegretol, others)
  • Chloral hydrate (Somnote)
  • Cimetidine (Tagamet)
  • Desipramine (Norpramin)
  • Indomethacin (Indocin)
  • Morphine (Avinza, Ms Contin, others)
  • Naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprosyn)
  • Nitrofurantoin (Furadantin, Macrobid, Macrodantin)
  • Penicillin
  • Quinine (Qualaquin)

Infectious diseases
Some types of infectious diseases can cause petechiae on the skin, while others may result in petechiae on the inner surfaces of the mouth or eyelids. A variety of fungal, viral and bacterial infections can cause petechiae, including:

  1. Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection
  2. Parvovirus infection
  3. Endocarditis
  4. Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome
  5. Meningococcemia
  6. Mononucleosis
  7. Rocky Mountain spotted fever
  8. Scarlet fever
  9. Sepsis
  10. Strep throat
  11. Viral hemorrhagic fevers

Other medical conditions
Many noninfectious medical conditions also can cause petechiae. Examples include:

  1. Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS)
  2. Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP)
  3. Leukemia
  4. Infantile scurvy
  5. Vasculitis
  6. Vitamin K deficiency

Causes shown here are commonly associated with this symptom. Work with your doctor or other health care professional for an accurate diagnosis.

May. 05, 2012