Definition of Petechiae

Smooth, reddened, pinpoint lesions that result from microscopic bleeding under the surface of the skin. Petechiae most commonly appear on the lower legs though can appear anywhere on the body.

The presence of petechiae is a symptom that signals an underlying health condition that causes a low platelet count such as thrombocytopenialeukemiamononucleosis, or systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Platelets are the body’s first-line response in the coagulation process, clumping together (aggregating) to slow bleeding.

Antiplatelet therapy such as aspirin therapy, often prescribed for people at risk for heart attack or stroke, intentionally blocks the actions of platelets and may also result in petechiae. The appearance, which often is sudden, requires prompt evaluation from a doctor.


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