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 can cause this bleeding, including:
- Prolonged straining
- Medical conditions
Tiny petechiae of the face, neck and chest can be caused by prolonged straining during activities such as coughing, vomiting, giving birth and weightlifting.
Petechiae may result from taking some types of medications, including:
- Phenytoin (Cerebyx)
- Quinine (Qualaquin)
Petechiae may be caused by any of a number of fungal, viral and bacterial infections, including:
- Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection
- Rocky Mountain spotted fever
- Scarlet fever
- Strep throat
- Viral hemorrhagic fevers
Other medical conditions
Petechiae may also be caused by noninfectious medical conditions. Examples include:
- Thrombocytopenia (low platelet count)
- Scurvy (vitamin C deficiency)
- Vitamin K deficiency
April 17, 2018
Causes shown here are commonly associated with this symptom. Work with your doctor or other health care professional for an accurate diagnosis.
- Bolognia JL, et al., eds. Purpura: Mechanisms and differential diagnosis. In: Dermatology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2018. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed March 28, 2018.
- Gawkrodger DJ, et al. Vascular and lymphatic diseases. In: Dermatology: An Illustrated Colour Text. 6th ed. Edinburgh, U.K.: Elsevier; 2017. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed March 28, 2018.
- Fitzpatrick JE, et al., eds. Morphology of primary and secondary skin lesions. In: Dermatology Secrets Plus. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2016. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed March 28, 2018.
- LeBlond RF, et al., eds. The skin and nails. In: DeGowin's Diagnostic Examination. 10th ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Education; 2015. http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com. Accessed March 28, 2018.
- Nachman RL, et al. Platelets, petechiae, and preservation of the vascular wall. New England Journal of Medicine. 2008;395:1261.
- Litin SC (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. March 12, 2015.
- Bennett JE, et al., eds. The acutely ill patient with fever and rash. In: Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2015. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed March 28, 2018.
- Raffini L. Evaluation of purpura in children. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed March 28, 2018.
- Wald ER. Group A streptococcal tonsillopharyngitis in children and adolescents: Clinical features and diagnosis. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed March 28, 2018.