Petechiae, red spots on the skin

Petechiae are small skin lesions that occur as a result of bloodshed when a capillary ruptures. When these tiny superficial blood vessels break, a small amount of blood remains visible through the skin, forming little red dots whose size can vary, although they are often the size of the head of a pin.

Initially, the color of these vascular effusions is red, violaceous or blackish and then changes to green, yellow and brown as a result of the successive chemical changes in the blood.

Causes of the appearance of petechiae in children

Petechiae, red spots on the skin, can often be confused with other skin conditions. Vitamin deficiencies can also lead to petechiae, as well as intoxications and allergies.


Petechia by effort: they appear when doing a great physical effort. For example, there are people who, when they vomit, make such an effort that they appear on the face, neck and part of the chest.

Petechiae for infection and viral diseases: they appear due to diseases that affect the blood coagulation, such as pernicious anemia or leukemia. Petechiae can also occur due to liver problems.

Petechia for old age: are the so-called senile petechia, which arise as a result of the aging of the skin.

Petechiae for medical treatment: arise as a result of drugs that affect blood clotting, as well as radiation treatments or chemotherapy.


Petechiae due to parasitic causes: are due to insect bites, bites and other injuries causted by animals.

Petechia for mechanical reasons: by punctures or pinches on the skin, suctions or blows.

How to act in front of children's petechia?

Petechiae predict a serious illness if they are accompanied by fever or are very numerous, also if they increase in size as the hours pass. These symptoms appear when there is an infection that affects the blood clotting and you need to see a doctor as soon as possible. In these cases, the health worker must proceed to perform a blood analysis and thereafter, dictate the treatment to follow.

When to go to the doctor

Petechiae, red spots on the skin, require the supervision of an expert if they present the following symptoms:
- They are accompanied by a fever.
- They increase in size as the hours or minutes pass
- There is a general decay.
- They have a large size, more than a few millimeters.
- They are becoming more numerous.


Normally, petechiae disappear if the disease that originated them is correctly treated, that is, those caused by external elements, such as bites, blows, pinches, etc.

Petechiae, angiomas and rashes

Petechiae can be confused frequently with other skin conditions, such as angiomas and rashes.
The angiomas are distinguished by being large, irregularly shaped and already existed previously. The skin conditions appear rosy, while the petechiae have a blood color. Both the first and the second have a feature that distinguishes them from the petechia, red spots on the skin: if we press the spots, they change color and seem to disappear totally or partially instantaneously due to pressure. Petechiae do not vary.

Teresa Pereda
Advisor: Lourdes Martínez, pediatrician.

It may interest you:

- Angiomas and spots on the baby's skin

- Smudges on the face, how to disguise them?

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Video: Identifying Petechiae


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