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Petechiae are tiny red spots on the skin. They tend to be less than 2 mm in diameter and resemble a rash. Petechiae spots can also look purple or brown.
They can appear under the eyes, on the neck, or on the chest. They are often caused by bleeding under the skin. This is triggered by different things.
Petechiae usually isn't a serious problem. But sometimes petechiae can indicate a more serious condition.
If a child develops petechiae while they have a fever, seek immediate medical attention.
The main difference between petechiae and purpura is their size. Purpura is larger and is the result of petechiae joining together.
Petechiae and purpura are caused by blood vessels breaking under the skin. They can also indicate other health concerns if a person is sick.
There is a wide range of causes of petechiae. The most common causes include:
Petechiae are small, red dots that usually appear around the eyes. They may be caused by activities (powerful coughing, vomiting, lifting heavy weights, etc.), illnesses (viral infections, sepsis, blood disorders, etc.), and medicines (reaction to medications like NSAIDs, sedatives, blood thinners, etc.). They are not indicative of eye disease.
Red dots around the eyes usually aren’t a symptom of anything serious. But there are times when they can be.
A study showed that 25% of people who developed a fever and petechiae on their upper torso had a bacterial infection.5
In most cases, petechiae are one of many symptoms indicating a serious condition. Contact your doctor immediately if you develop red spots while experiencing:
Seek medical guidance if you notice the spots are turning into purpura. Blood clots or bleeding into the skin can be a concern when red dots appear underneath the eyes.
Sick children who develop petechiae or purpura should also seek immediate medical care. Meningococcal infection is a common cause of petechiae in 50% to 70% of cases.4
Petechiae in itself is not dangerous. However, when it is accompanied by other symptoms such as fever, vomiting, headache, or stiff neck, it can indicate a serious underlying condition. See a doctor immediately.
Petechiae prevention depends on the cause. If you develop petechiae after vomiting or coughing violently, do what you can to avoid these activities. However, they're not always possible to control if they're related to illness.
If you are experiencing something that you know triggers petechiae, apply a cold compress under your eyes for 10 to 15 minutes throughout the day.
If a certain medication triggers petechiae, speak to your doctor about alternative options. Identifying the underlying cause of petechiae helps to avoid and/or treat it.
Petechiae usually resolve on their own after about two to three days. However, some home remedies prevent spots from forming or help them quickly ease after they form.
Applying cold compresses to the affected area helps reduce inflammation and eases the appearance of petechiae.
Petechiae caused by an infection clears up on its own after treating the infection.
In some cases, doctors prescribe corticosteroids or antibiotics to treat petechiae. These medicines treat infections and reduce inflammation. Immunosuppressants are also effective in treating petechiae.
If petechiae are not linked to an infection or another underlying condition, the best treatment is rest, relaxation, and plenty of water.
If you experience discomfort, over-the-counter pain relievers, like acetaminophen and ibuprofen, are helpful.
The best way to prevent activity-induced petechiae is to avoid activities that require heavy lifting or straining. If petechiae is related to illness, or if you're taking medications that cause petechiae, talk to your doctor about it. They may recommend home remedies if it's nothing serious. They may also prescribe antibiotics or corticosteroids to treat the root cause of the problem.
The red circles that appear under your eyes after vomiting are petechiae. They are caused by broken blood vessels that cause minor bleeding under the skin. The blood vessels burst because of the strain of vomiting. This condition is more likely to arise when vomiting is intense. Vomiting-induced petechiae tend to clear up on their own.
Red dots tend to develop under your eyes after drinking alcohol because of how alcohol affects the body. The alcohol also enters your bloodstream and travels into your eyes. This puts a strain on the small blood vessels or capillaries in your face. Petechiae also form if you vomit after drinking, just as they can when you vomit for any other reason.
Drinking alcohol also affects the nutrient balance in your body. Petechiae are linked to a vitamin B12 deficiency, so indirectly, if your alcohol consumption has affected your body’s B12 level, it could cause red dots to form.
Yes, most of the time petechiae go away on their own. You can speed things along by applying cold compresses to the affected area for about 15 minutes at a time every few hours. If red dots are caused by skin conditions or an allergic reaction, you might need to see a dermatologist for treatment.
Indirectly, yes, stress can cause petechiae to form under the eyes. This is because so many people cry when they feel stressed. The harder you cry and the puffier your eyes get from crying, the more likely red dots are to form. Elevated blood pressure, which is a symptom of stress, also causes red spots.
People with vitamin B12 deficiencies tend to have a higher risk of petechiae forming. If you believe a vitamin deficiency could be the cause of red spots, seek medical advice and discuss possible supplements or treatment options with your doctor.
Petechiae are often nothing to worry about. They eventually go away on their own. However, if you're experiencing other symptoms, like fever, breathlessness, or weakness, consult your doctor immediately.
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