Henoch-Schönlein Purpura (HSP)

Children’s Services Colchester Hospital Turner Road Colchester CO4 5JL

Children’s Ward Tel: 01206 746208 or 746209

Children’s Assessment Unit Tel: 01206 746200


Henoch-schönlein purpura is named after the doctors who first described the disease and is often referred to as HP. It is a disease where small blood vessels called capillaries become inflamed producing a rash on the skin (purpura). It may also affect blood vessels in the intestines and kidneys.
We do not know exactly what causes HSP but it may be triggered by viral or bacterial infections (cold or respiratory tract infection). HSP is not an inherited disease and is not contagious. It is more common in winter and spring than summer.
Children between the ages of two and 11 years seem to develop HSP more than younger or older children, and it seems to affect boys slightly more than girls.

More Information

The symptoms mainly affect four areas of the body and can come and go for several weeks, or even months in some cases.

  • Skin – affected in all cases. A purple-red rash, which does not go away when pressed (non- blanching), that in some cases can turn into ulcers. The rash is usually over the backs of the limbs, especially the legs, which can also be swollen.
  • Digestive system – tummy aches which can be severe and occasionally result in blood in the stools.
  • Joints – painful and swollen joints, usually affecting the knees and ankles.
  • Kidneys – protein and blood may be found in the urine.

Often this will resolve as your child gets better but can be a more serious long-term problem. It will need careful monitoring.

HSP is usually diagnosed by looking at your child’s symptoms and a physical examination. Your child will often need blood and urine tests. If there is blood and protein in the urine, high blood pressure or other blood test markers of kidney damage, referral to a nephrologist (kidney specialist) may be required, although this is rare. Your doctor will check urine for blood or protein for 3-6 months.

There is no specific treatment for HSP apart from rest and pain relief medication. Children will usually improve within several weeks.

Paracetamol or ibuprofen can be given to relieve any joint pains.

Steroids may be used in children with severe symptoms, particularly bad tummy pain or kidney damage.

Overall, HSP does not cause long-term problems and most children make a full recovery, although relapses (usually milder than the first attack) can occur in about 50% of cases in the following months. Children whose kidneys are affected may need additional investigations and long-term follow-up.

  • HSP causes inflammation of the small blood vessels in the skin resulting in a rash.
  • HSP can also affect blood vessels around the kidneys and intestines.
  • HSP occurs most often in children aged 2-11 years.
  • The cause is unknown.
  • Paracetamol and anti-inflammatory drugs help painful joints and general discomfort.
  • Steroid treatment may be prescribed.
  • If you are worried about increased pain, swelling or blood in the stools or urine, take your child to your GP.
  • Long term follow-up for urine and blood pressure checks are very important.

Henoch-Schönlein Purpura Support Group 01733 204368 10 am -2 pm. There is an answer machine, although the group cannot return calls to mobile phones.

Email: [email protected]

If you have any further queries or concerns you can phone the number below: Children’s Assessment Unit 01206 746200

Please raise any concerns in the ward or department you are in. Ask to speak with the ward sister, matron or department manager. If your concerns cannot be resolved or you wish to make a formal complaint, please call PALS (Patient Advice & Liaison Service) on 0800 783 7328.

Pick up a PALS leaflet or visit and search for ‘PALS’.