Henoch-Schönlein purpura

Toggle: English / Spanish


Henoch-Schönlein purpura is a disease that involves purple spots on the skin, joint pain, gastrointestinal problems, and glomerulonephritis (a type of kidney disorder).

Alternative Names

Leukocytoclastic vasculitis; Anaphylactoid purpura; Vascular purpura


Henoch-Schönlein is caused by an abnormal response of the immune system. The result is inflammation in the microscopic blood vessels in the skin. Blood vessels in the joints, kidneys, or the intestines may also be affected. It is unclear why this occurs.

The syndrome is mostly seen in children, but it may affect people of any age. It is more common in boys than in girls. Many people who develop this disease had an upper respiratory infection in the weeks before.


Symptoms may include:

Exams and Tests

The health care provider will look at your body and look at your skin. The physical exam will show skin sores (purpura, lesions) and joint tenderness.

Tests may include:

  • Skin biopsy
  • Urinalysis
  • Blood tests to look for other causes of blood vessel inflammation, such as systemic lupus erythematosus or hepatitis


There is no specific treatment. Most cases go away on their own. If symptoms do not go away, you need to take corticosteroid medicine such as prednisone.

Outlook (Prognosis)

The disease most often gets better on its own.

Possible Complications

Complications may include:

  • Bleeding inside the body
  • Kidney problems (in rare cases)

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your provider if:

  • You develop symptoms of Henoch-Schönlein purpura, and they last for more than a few days.
  • You have low urine output after an episode of Henoch-Schönlein purpura.


Ardoin SP, Fels E. Vasculitis syndromes. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton B, St. Geme J, Schor N, Behrman RE, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 161.

Marcdante KJ, Kliegman RM. Henoch-Schöenlein purpura. In: Marcdante KJ, Kliegman RM, eds. Nelson Essentials of Pediatrics. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 87.

Version Info

  • Last reviewed on 4/28/2015
  • Gordon A. Starkebaum, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (www.hon.ch)

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2013 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.