Tiny blood vessels, called capillaries, link the smallest parts of your arteries to the smallest parts of your veins. Petechiae form when capillaries bleed, leaking blood into the skin. The bleeding may be caused by:

  1. Prolonged straining
  2. Medicines
  3. Medical conditions

Prolonged straining

Tiny spots on the face, neck and chest can be caused by straining for a long time from coughing, vomiting, giving birth or lifting weights.


Petechiae may result from taking some types of medicine, including phenytoin (Cerebyx, Dilantin-125, others), penicillin and quinine (Qualaquin).

Infectious diseases

Petechiae may be caused by infection with a fungus, virus or bacteria. Examples of these types of infection include:

  1. Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection
  2. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)
  3. Endocarditis
  4. Meningococcemia
  5. Mononucleosis
  6. Rubella
  7. Scarlet fever
  8. Strep throat
  9. Viral hemorrhagic fevers

Other medical conditions

Petechiae may be caused by other medical conditions. Examples include:

  1. Cryoglobulinemia
  2. Immune thrombocytopenia (ITP)
  3. Leukemia
  4. Scurvy (vitamin C deficiency)
  5. Thrombocytopenia
  6. Vasculitis

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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May 26, 2023