Your doctor will be able to diagnose the condition as Henoch-Schonlein purpura if the classic rash, joint pain and gastrointestinal symptoms are present. If some of these signs and symptoms are missing, your doctor may suggest one or more of the following tests.
No single test can confirm Henoch-Schonlein purpura, but certain tests can help rule out other diseases and make a diagnosis of Henoch-Schonlein seem likely. They may include:
- Blood tests. Your blood may be tested if your diagnosis isn't clear based on your signs and symptoms.
- Urine tests. Your urine may be tested for evidence of blood and to determine if your kidneys are still working properly.
People who have Henoch-Schonlein purpura often have deposits of a certain antibody on their skin. Your doctor may take a small sample of skin to be examined under a microscope. In cases of severe kidney involvement, your doctor may suggest a kidney biopsy to help guide treatment decisions.
Your doctor may recommend an ultrasound to rule out other causes of abdominal pain and to check for possible complications, such as a bowel obstruction.
Henoch-Schonlein purpura usually goes away on its own within a month with no lasting ill effects. Bed rest, plenty of fluids and over-the-counter pain relievers may help.
The use of corticosteroids, such as prednisone, in treating or preventing complications of Henoch-Schonlein purpura is controversial. They're most often used to treat severe gastrointestinal symptoms. Because these drugs can have serious side effects and their usefulness isn't clear, be sure to discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.
If a section of the bowel has folded in upon itself or ruptured, surgical repair will be necessary.
Lifestyle and home remedies
Home care focuses on keeping people with mild Henoch-Schonlein purpura comfortable while the disease runs its course. Bed rest, plenty of fluids and over-the-counter pain relievers may help.
Preparing for your appointment
You'll likely see your family doctor or your child's pediatrician for this condition, although you may be referred to a kidney specialist (nephrologist) if kidney complications develop. Here's some information that may help you get ready for your appointment and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
Before your appointment, you may want to write a list of answers to the following questions:
- When did the symptoms begin?
- Did they come on suddenly or gradually?
- Were you or was your child sick before the rash started?
- What medications and supplements do you or your child take regularly?
Questions you may want to ask your doctor include:
- What might be causing these symptoms?
- What tests are needed to confirm the diagnosis?
- Is this condition temporary or chronic?
- How will I know if there's kidney damage? What if it turns up later on?
- How is Henoch-Schonlein purpura treated?
- What are the side effects of treatment?
- Do you have any literature on this condition? Is there a website you can recommend where I can learn more?
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask a number of questions, such as:
- What did the rash look like when it first started?
- Is the rash painful? Does it itch?
- Do you or does your child have other symptoms, such as stomach pain or joint aches?