What is Cutaneous Small Vessel Vasculitis?

Cutaneous Small Vessel Vasculitis is a disorder where there are inflamed blood vessels called arterioles and venules in the skin. It is also known as leukocytoclastic vasculitis.

Who gets this disease?

The average age of onset ranges from 34 to 49 years of age. Women are affected more commonly than men, with ratios from 2:1 to 3: 1.

What causes Cutaneous Small Vessel Vasculitis?

The cause of this disease can be idiopathic (unknown) or secondary to a bacterial or viral infection, drug, or a disease. Vasculitis can occur 7-10 days after taking a new medication. Common medications that cause include: antibiotics, thiazide diuretics, phenytoin, allopurinol, oral anticoagulants, and NSAIDs.

What diseases are related to Cutaneous Small Vessel Vasculitis?

Autoimmune diseases typically involve the patient’s antibodies attacking their own body. These antibodies can also attack blood vessels, resulting in this rash. Systemic lupus erythematous, dermatomyositis, and rheumatoid arthritis are examples of these autoimmune diseases associated with this condition.

What are the signs and symptoms?

The most common presentation is small purple bumps and patches ranging from 1mm- several centimeters that do not turn white with pressure on both lower legs. Sometimes pin point red dots, bruises, hives, and blood blisters may appear. These lesions can itch, burn, and cause swelling. Patients may have fever, joint pain, swollen lymph nodes, and an upset stomach.

How is this disease diagnosed?

This can be a clinical diagnosis; however, a skin biopsy is often performed to confirm the diagnosis. Additionally, bloodwork is drawn to investigate the cause of this disease.

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