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Purpura is the name given to the discolouration of the skin or mucous membranes due to haemorrhage from small blood vessels.

-Petechiae are small, purpuric lesions up to 2mm across

- Ecchymoses or bruises are larger extravasations of blood.

Extravasated blood usually breaks down and changes colour over a few weeks from purple, orange, brown and even blue and green.


The signs and symptoms of purpura vary depending on the type of purpura. The following broad generalisations may be made.

- Petechiae are usually present in thrombocytopaenic purpura. There may be some external bleeding and bruising.

- Coagulation defects usually present as large ecchymoses and external bleeding. Petechiae do not feature.

- Lesions of blood vessels cause persistent and localised purpura with an erythematous inflammatory component. This may be palpable. Ecchymoses and external bleeding are uncommon.

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