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Petechiae (Child)

Petechiae are very small red spots on the skin. They are flat on the skin, not raised. They often show up very suddenly. Petechiae usually occur on the arms, legs, stomach, and buttocks. They don’t itch. The spots may be caused by a viral or bacterial infection. They may also be caused by a reaction to a medicine. Petechiae that continue to grow and merge together may mean that your child has a bleeding disorder.

Petechiae caused by an infection or medicine go away on their own without treatment. They don’t leave scars. If a bleeding disorder is causing the spots, the disorder will need to be treated. Your child may need more testing for a diagnosis.

Home care

  • Follow any instructions your child’s healthcare provider gives you. This may include changing a medicine that your child takes. Don’t start or stop any medicines without talking with your child’s provider.

  • Check your child’s spots regularly for changes. The spots may turn purple as they fade and go away.

  • Contact the healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about your child’s health.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your child’s health care provider, or as advised.

When to seek medical advice

Unless your child's health care provider advises otherwise, call the provider right away if:

  • The child is younger than 2 years of age and a fever of 100.4°F (38°C) continues for more than 1 day.

  • The child is 2 years old or older and a fever of 100.4°F (38°C) continues for more than 3 days.

  • The child is of any age and has repeated fevers above 104°F (40°C).

  • The child’s condition gets worse in any way.

  • The spots increase or get bigger.

  • The spots merge together.

  • Long streaks appear under your child’s nails.

  • The child has bruising that is unexplained or gets worse.

  • The child shows irritability, such as crying that can’t be soothed.

  • The child becomes lethargic or unusually sleepy, or does not acting like him- or herself.

  • The child has breathing problems. 

 

 
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