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:

  1. Prolonged straining
  2. Medications
  3. Medical conditions

Prolonged straining

Tiny petechiae of the face, neck and chest can be caused by prolonged straining during activities such as coughing, vomiting, giving birth and weightlifting.

Medications

Petechiae may result from taking some types of medications, including:

  1. Phenytoin (Cerebyx)
  2. Penicillin
  3. Quinine (Qualaquin)

Infectious diseases

Petechiae may be caused by any of a number of fungal, viral and bacterial infections, including:

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

Other medical conditions

Petechiae may also be caused by noninfectious medical conditions. Examples include:

  1. Vasculitis
  2. Thrombocytopenia (low platelet count)
  3. Leukemia
  4. Scurvy (vitamin C deficiency)
  5. 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.

Get the latest health information from Mayo Clinic’s experts.

Sign up for free, and stay up to date on research advancements, health tips and current health topics, like COVID-19, plus expertise on managing health.

To provide you with the most relevant and helpful information, and understand which information is beneficial, we may combine your email and website usage information with other information we have about you. If you are a Mayo Clinic patient, this could include protected health information. If we combine this information with your protected health information, we will treat all of that information as protected health information and will only use or disclose that information as set forth in our notice of privacy practices. You may opt-out of email communications at any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.

June 25, 2021