Anemia isn’t just one disease. There are many types, some of which cause rashes. While anemia involves the red blood cells, rashes are one of its major signs. Know how to spot them to get diagnosed on time.
What Is Anemia?
Anemia is diagnosed if your red blood cell count is lower than normal. In some cases, red blood cells don’t have enough hemoglobin, the iron-rich protein that carries oxygen, and this deficiency affects your body. Common anemia symptoms include the following:
- Shortness of breath
What Does An Anemia Rash Look Like?
Most anemia rashes are red or purple tiny dots called petechiae. They form when blood vessels break and bleed into the skin. Unlike the average bruise, petechiae is a sign of something serious.1 They also won’t change color when pressed or touched. Don’t let the “rash” part fool you. It’s not itchy like most rashes, but it’ll certainly look like one.
What Causes Anemia Rashes?
1. Aplastic Anemia
Aplastic anemia, or bone marrow failure, is the most common cause of anemia rashes. Here, the bone marrow’s stem cells are damaged and the body doesn’t make enough red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. The condition is rare but really serious. It’s 2 to 3 times more common in Asian countries.2 3
2. Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura
Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) is a rare blood disorder that can lead to anemia. It’s defined by blood clots forming in small
The constant clotting also uses up platelets. It brings on bleeding problems under the skin, causing petechiae. Purpura, or purple bruises, can also develop.4
3. Paroxysmal Nocturnal Hemoglobinuria
Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) means that red blood cells break down earlier than normal (120 days). People with PNH don’t have PIG-A, a gene that helps proteins stick to red blood cells, proteins that offer protection!5
PNH causes easy bleeding and bruising, leading to petechiae. Bleeding gums and heavy periods might also show up.6 People who have had aplastic anemia earlier are at an increased risk. But, the condition is also just as rare.7
4. Hemolytic-Uremic Syndrome
The hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS) is often caused by gastrointestinal infections like E.coli, Shigella, and salmonella. These infections can create toxins that destroy red blood cells, leading to hemolytic anemia.
Early symptoms of this syndrome include signs of a typical GI infection: diarrhea, vomiting, blood in the stools, and lethargy. But when HUS progresses? A bruising, yellow skin and petechiae show up. HUS also injures the kidneys, causing acute renal failure.8
Treatment For Anemia Rashes
Remember, anemia rashes are caused by bleeding under the skin. Slathering on coconut oil won’t help! Instead, your condition needs to be treated internally. Here are some treatment options for the different types of anemia rashes:
- Aplastic anemia: Blood transfusions and stem cell transplants9
- Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura: Plasma therapy, medicine,
- Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria: Immune-suppressant drugs, iron and folic acid supplements, blood thinners, and blood transfusions11
- Hemolytic-uremic syndrome: Dialysis, red blood cell and platelet transfusions, and medicines like corticosteroids12
Petechiae is just one of many symptoms. Anemia is a complicated disease, but with a doctor’s help, timely management is possible.
|↑2||Who Is at Risk for Aplastic Anemia?. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.|
|↑3, ↑9||What Is Aplastic Anemia?. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.|
|↑4||What Is Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.|
|↑5, ↑11||Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH). MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑6||Naithani, Rahul, Manoranjan Mahapatra, Pankhi Dutta, Rajat Kumar, Hara Prasad Pati, and Ved Prakash Choudhry. “Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria in childhood and adolescence-a retrospective analysis of 18 cases.” Indian journal of pediatrics 75, no. 6 (2008): 575-578.|
|↑7||Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH). MedlinePlus,
|↑8, ↑12||Hemolytic-uremic syndrome. MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑10||How Is Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura Treated?. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.|