Capillaritis

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Images of Capillaritis

Overview

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

Self-Care Guidelines

None necessary.

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

Trusted Links

MedlinePlus: Skin Conditions

References

Bolognia, Jean L., ed. Dermatology, pp.361-362. New York: Mosby, 2003.

Freedberg, Irwin M., ed. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 6th ed, pp. 1737-1738. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003.