We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is Purpura Fulminans?

By Maggie J. Hall
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Purpura fulminans is a destructive skin condition caused by hematological abnormalities that develop in the underlying blood vessels. The disorder may be acquired, inherited, or idiopathic, having no apparent cause. Purpura fulminans usually remains within the soft tissues of the limbs but can progress to other organs. The seriousness of the condition requires immediate diagnosis, and treatment varies depending on location, extent, and severity.

Symptoms of purpura fulminans may first appear as pinpoint spots or reddened areas on the skin. These lesions quickly evolve into painful bluish purple areas with well-defined borders. Discoloration occurs as clots form in the blood vessels beneath the surface, impeding normal blood flow. The areas may become thick and swollen. Eventually the skin blackens as the tissue dies, at which point the condition is called purpura gangrenosa.

In extreme cases, the body consumes all of the available clotting factors and can no longer stop the bleeding. Subdermal hemorrhaging produces bruising. Purpura fulminans may cause the entire body to respond and the patient to experience fever and chills. Extreme fatigue may follow, and hematology results often reveal anemia. The condition may progress to shock and death in 48 to 72 hours after onset.

The acquired form of the affliction typically involves a previous bacterial or viral infection. Bacteria commonly associated with the condition include Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus and Streptococcus. Pediatric patients may have had chicken pox, measles, or meningitis prior to exhibiting purpura symptoms. The inherited form of the affliction may involve individuals who lack proteins C and S. These glycoproteins have anticoagulant properties and aid the body in coagulation regulation.

Physicians commonly prescribe antibiotic or antiviral medications if unresolved infections remain. Purpura fulminans treatment usually includes anticoagulants to prevent depletion of coagulation factors and aid the possible reversal of tissue necrosis. Health care providers may order clot-busting medications to dissolve existing clots. Patients may require blood transfusions if the condition progresses to the point of hemorrhage.

Health care providers may order imaging studies in order to evaluate the extent of the affected tissue and the amount of damage incurred. Individuals often receive intravenous fluids to correct metabolic imbalances and maintain organ function. Oxygen therapy ensures that adequate oxygenation is maintained. Patients may receive topical, oral, or intravenous medications for pain management, though regional anesthetics are used to alleviate pain when larger areas of the body become affected.

Auto-amputation can occur as tissues tighten and restrict blood flow. Surgeons usually remove necrotic or dead tissue. When purpura fulminans affects a large portion of a limb, including muscle and bone tissue, patients generally require amputation.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.