Leukocytoclastic vasculitis refers to the inflammation of small blood vessels in the body. Since this condition causes damage to the blood vessels, it may lead to bleeding and damage to surrounding tissues in some cases. While some people who are suffering from this disease may experience acute attacks, it may result in chronic attacks if it evolves into a chronic condition. It usually manifests in the skin, particularly in the legs, but it may also occur in other areas. It may also lead to small spots of discoloration that signify bleeding under the skin.
Leukocytoclastic Vasculitis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
What causes leukocytoclastic vasculitis?
The skin discoloration caused by leukocytoclastic vasculitis is known as purpura, which are small red or purple spots that are raised from the skin. In most cases, they may be itchy or painful. Others do not experience any kind of discomfort at all. These lesions usually remain small or they may combine and form larger spots or open sores. They may also obstruct the flow of blood to the skin, which causes necrosis or tissue death. Small vessel vasculitis can also occur internally, affecting certain organs such as the kidneys, heart, lungs, and portions of the gastrointestinal tract.
Different factors may trigger the causes of leukocytoclastic vasculitis. In most cases, it usually arises spontaneously with no distinct or identifiable cause. Often, it appears to be caused by misguided immune responses, in which the body treats its own blood vessels as intruders and attacks them. Allergic reactions to certain over-the-counter drugs, especially antibiotics, may cause it as well. Hepatitis, HIV, and other infections are associated with this condition too. Food additives and by-products may also set off allergic reactions and cause the small blood vessels to become inflamed.
Vasculitis Syndrome Type
Leukocytoclastic vasculitis is only one of the several vasculitis syndrome types. Giant cell arteritis, Takayasus arteritis, and Behcet’s syndrome usually affect blood vessels that are larger in size. Churg-Strauss syndrome and microscopic polyangiitis usually affect the smaller ones. Some forms of it only affect the joints or the skin, with leukocytoclastic vasculitis being the most popular form. It is important to identify what type of vasculitis syndrome a patient is suffering from to come up with an appropriate treatment plan. Here are some of the similarities and differences among the aforementioned conditions.
Behcet’s syndrome refers to a condition that appears in young people who are usually in their 20′s or 30′s. It occurs commonly among men compared to women. It may cause the inflammation of certain organs, from the blood vessels to the eyes to the genitals. As compared to the symptoms of leukocytoclastic vasculitis, a person with Behcet’s syndrome usually develops ulcers in the mouth. If it leads to the eye inflammation, it has to be treated before it even leads to permanent blindness. Cure is not known for Behcet’s but most people respond well to corticosteroids.
Giant cell arteritis and another vasculitis syndrome form occurs when the arteries in a patients head becomes inflamed. It may also cause a number of symptoms that are different from those associated with leukocytoclastic vasculitis. Headaches and blurry vision are the most common symptoms of this condition. Women who are already older than 50 are at risk of developing giant cell arteritis. On the other hand, Takayasus arteritis affects young girls and causes the damage to any of their medium or large-sized blood vessels. Unexplained weight loss and fatigue are the initial symptoms of this condition.
Patients who are suffering from Churg-Strauss Syndrome may also experience symptoms that are different from the discomfort caused by leukocytoclastic vasculitis. In this condition, the small blood vessels become inflamed and restrict the blood flow to major organs such as the lungs. Asthma attacks are common symptoms, which may appear years before a patient develops other symptoms. During the later stages of the disease, patients may also experience neuropathy, skin rashes, and joint pain. Cure is not known for this condition but corticosteroids and immunosuppressive drugs can certainly help in easing its symptoms.
Treatment for leukocytoclastic vasculitis
More than 50% of people who are suffering from leukocytoclastic vasculitis fail to identify the cause of the disease. This makes it harder for them to receive the exact type of treatment they need. Of course, the choice of drug greatly depends on the causes and symptoms of the disease. In general, it can be cured with the use of corticosteroids and anti-inflammatory drugs. Some attempt to cure it by removing the trigger or elevating their feet while they sleep at night. Also popular as hypersensitivity vasculitis, this disease may only affect the skin or also the internal organs.
Leukocytoclastic vasculitis refers to inflamed blood vessels that usually occurs once but causes recurring attacks when it develops into a chronic condition. Various triggers that may be removed to ease its symptoms include certain food items, antibiotics, and types of infection. It may cause an itching or burning sensation in the skin and lead to the development of rashes and ulcerated lesions. Medical specialists perform a number of tests to check if there is a systemic involvement and identify which type of vasculitis treatment you will need. Pure forms of cutaneous vasculitis may only become fatal if they affect your internal organs.
Patients who are suffering from severe cases of leukocytoclastic vasculitis may be treated with the use of corticosteroids. They may be used alone or even in combination with other drugs such as azathioprine and cyclophosphamide. A monoclonal antibody called rituximab may also be used for cases that involve anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies. Anti-inflammatory drugs are also used by patients with forms of vasculitis that only affect the skin. Since this condition can lead to various symptoms, it is best to investigate the patient’s condition before establishing a diagnosis as well as a subsequent treatment method.
These are only some of the things you need to remember when dealing with this condition. Regardless of how severe your condition may be, it will always be best to consult your doctor before curing any case of leukocytoclastic vasculitis.
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