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Purpura are purple or red spots on the skin or mucus membranes. Purpura appear when blood leaks from blood vessels and collects under the skin or mucus membrane. Purpura may be caused by any condition that causes abnormal bleeding. Treatment for purpura depends on what has caused the purpura.


Call 911 for any of the following:

  • You have any of the following signs of a heart attack:
    • Squeezing, pressure, or pain in your chest that lasts longer than 5 minutes or returns
    • Discomfort or pain in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or arm
    • Trouble breathing
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Lightheadedness or a sudden cold sweat, especially with chest pain or trouble breathing
  • You have any of the following signs of a stroke:
    • Numbness or drooping on one side of your face
    • Weakness in an arm or leg
    • Confusion or difficulty speaking
    • Dizziness, a severe headache, or vision loss

Seek care immediately if:

  • You have bleeding that does not stop or a bruise that suddenly gets bigger.
  • You vomit blood or material that looks like coffee grounds.
  • Your arm or leg looks bigger than normal and feels warm, tender, or painful.
  • You suddenly feel lightheaded, dizzy, or weak.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have bleeding from your gums, mouth, or nose.
  • You have irregular or heavy menstrual bleeding.
  • You have blood in your urine or bowel movement.
  • You see more bruises or red or purple spots on your skin.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • Do not take NSAIDs, aspirin, or blood thinner medicine. These medicines can make purpura worse. Ask your healthcare provider how long you need to stop these medicines.
  • Protect your body from injury. Cuts or scrapes may cause bleeding that is difficult to control. Use an electric shaver. Wear gloves when you wash the dishes or garden. Be careful when you use knives or other sharp items. Always wear a seatbelt.
  • Do not play contact sports. Contact sports such as football or boxing may cause injury or bleeding that is difficult to control. Ask your healthcare provider what activities are safe for you to do.
  • Control bleeding. Apply firm, steady pressure to cuts or scrapes. If possible, elevate the area above the level of your heart. If your nose bleeds, pinch the upper part of your nose and hold a tissue at the opening. Do this until the bleeding stops.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

You may need to return for more tests. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.