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.
Tiny petechiae of the face, neck and chest can be caused by prolonged straining during activities such as:
Some types of medications can result in petechiae, including:
- 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)
- Quinine (Qualaquin)
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:
- Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection
- Parvovirus infection
- Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome
- Rocky Mountain spotted fever
- Scarlet fever
- Strep throat
- Viral hemorrhagic fevers
Other medical conditions
Many noninfectious medical conditions also can cause petechiae. Examples include:
- Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS)
- Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP)
- Infantile scurvy
- Vitamin K deficiency
May. 05, 2012
Causes shown here are commonly associated with this symptom. Work with your doctor or other health care professional for an accurate diagnosis.
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- Mandell GL, et al. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-443-06839-3..X0001-X--TOP&isbn=978-0-443-06839-3&uniqId=230100505-57. Accessed Feb. 20, 2012.
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- Anderson CF (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Feb. 22, 2012.