Purpura Fulminans is a hemorrhagic condition that typically occurs following an infectious illness like chicken pox, scarlet fever, streptococcal pharyngitis, meningococcemia or rubella. The condition most often appears in children and symptoms occur about one to four weeks following the original illness. Purpura Fulminans occurs mainly in small babies and children.
Symptoms of Purpura Fulminans
Purpura Fulminans usually appears to have a very sudden onset. Many of the outward signs of the condition appear on the arms, legs, fingers or toes and may include:
- small, bluish bruises
The condition typically progresses very rapidly and in the affected areas the tissue can quickly become gangrenous and die. Severe hemorrhaging, or bleeding, of the skin, especially in areas that may have had a needle inserted for an IV (for example), may also occur.
Diagnosing Purpura Fulminans
Rapid diagnosis is critical in cases of Purpura Fulminans because the condition can be fatal within 48 to 72 hours. In many cases the diagnosis can be made visually, but MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) may also be used so that the doctor can see the soft tissue fluid and the extent of infection.
Treatment for Purpura Fulminans
Shriners Hospitals for Children® offer a variety of treatments for Purpura Fulminans based on the location, severity and extent of the infection. These include:
- administering medications like heparin (a blood thinner), vitamin K or corticosteroids that provide relief for inflamed joints
- administration of antibiotics
- surgical removal of the infected tissue
- in extreme cases, amputation of the infected extremity