Petechiae (Child)

Petechiae are tiny (2 mm) 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 or a collagen disorder. Petechiae that continue to grow and blend 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. Scattered petechiae with a fever may be the sign of a very serious infection that needs immediate medical care. 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 healthcare provider, or as advised.

When to seek medical advice

Call your child’s healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Your child has a fever of 100.4°F (38°C), or as directed by the provider

  • Your child’s condition gets worse in any way

  • The spots increase or get bigger

  • The spots blend together

  • Long streaks appear under your child’s nails

  • Your child has bruising that is unexplained or gets worse

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

  • Your child becomes lethargic or unusually sleepy, or does not act like normal

  • Your child has breathing problems

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© 2000-2017 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.