Capillaritis is characterized by leakage of red blood cells from small, superficial blood vessels that results in pinpoint-like hemorrhages (petechiae). Capillaritis is frequently found in patients with long periods of extended standing related to their occupations. A skin hypersensitivity reaction, salicylates and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the most commonly associated origins of capillaritis, though the precise cause is unclear. Capillaritis is usually a life-long condition, flaring intermittently.
Who's At Risk
Capillaritis is seen more frequently in adults, but it does occur in older children and adolescents.
Signs and Symptoms
The most common location for capillaritis is the leg, though it may manifest on the trunk and upper extremities. Capillaritis never presents on the face. Presentation may include:
- Brown-red or deeply pigmented, pepper-like petechiae in dark-skinned individuals
- Cayenne-pepper–colored petechiae in lighter-skinned individuals
- Color variations in the lesions due to different stages of blood breakdown product (hemosiderin) reabsorption
When to Seek Medical Care
Though capillaritis is a benign condition, another condition may be at work. The evaluation of a primary care physician or dermatologist should be obtained when unsure of the nature of a rash.
Treatments Your Physician May Prescribe
Treatment may include:
- Mid-potency topical steroids (in case of itching)
- Oral therapy with bioflavonoid and ascorbic acid
Bolognia, Jean L., ed. Dermatology
, pp.361-362. New York: Mosby, 2003.
Freedberg, Irwin M., ed. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine
ed, pp. 1737-1738. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003.