Henoch-Schönlein purpura (HSP)Overview

Henoch-Schönlein purpura (HSP) affects the blood vessels and causes a spotty rash. It's not usually serious, but can sometimes lead to kidney problems.

Check if you or your child has HSP

The main symptom of HSP is a rash of raised red or purple spots. The spots look like small bruises or blood spots.

Ask for an urgent GP appointment if:

  • you or your child have a rash that doesn't fade when a glass is pressed against it (glass test) – but you don't feel unwell

This could be HSP.

Call 999 or go to A&E if:

  • a rash doesn't fade when a glass is pressed against it and you feel very unwell – for example, it's painful to look at bright lights or you have a stiff neck

This could be something serious like meningitis.

Important

How to do the glass test

  1. Press the side of a clear glass firmly against the skin.
  2. Check a few times to see if you can still see the spots through the glass.

The rash can be hard to see on dark skin. Check paler areas like the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet.

What happens if you have HSP

There's no treatment for HSP. It usually passes in a few weeks and you can normally just rest at home until you feel better.

HSP can't spread to others, so:

  • your child can return to school or nursery when they feel well enough
  • you can go back to work as soon as you feel up to it

Treatment to relieve your symptoms

Paracetamol can help ease any pain.

Don't take ibuprofen without speaking to your doctor because it could harm your kidneys.

Regular check-ups for kidney problems

You'll have regular check-ups for 6 to 12 months to check how well your kidneys are working.

You'll usually be asked to provide a sample of pee and have your blood pressure checked at each appointment. This may be done at home, at your GP surgery, or in hospital.

Treatment in hospital

You may need to go into hospital if HSP affects your kidneys.

In hospital, you may be given strong medicines like steroids to help ease your symptoms.

Long-lasting effects of HSP

Most people with HSP make a full recovery. Any kidney problems usually get better without treatment.

But sometimes HSP can be severe and last several months, particularly in adults.

There's also a small chance the kidneys could be permanently damaged (chronic kidney disease). This is why it's important to have regular check-ups.

Important

You can get HSP more than once. Get medical advice quickly if the symptoms come back.

Page last reviewed: 24/09/2017
Next review due: 24/09/2020