Petechiae are pinpoint-sized spots of bleeding under the skin or mucous membranes. The purple, red or brown dots are not raised or itchy, and they’re not a rash. Many different things can cause petechiae, and some are serious. If you or your child have petechiae that spread quickly, or if you have dots plus other symptoms, seek medical attention.
Petechiae are tiny spots of bleeding under the skin or in the mucous membranes (mouth or eyelids). They are purple, red or brown dots, each about the size of a pinpoint. They’re not raised or bumpy.
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Petechiae may look like a rash, but they’re not. These pinpoint red dots on the skin are caused by broken capillaries, tiny blood vessels under the skin. They are not itchy or painful.
If you press on petechiae, they’ll stay purple, red or brown. But if you press on a rash, it will turn pale or lighter.
Petechiae can appear anywhere on the body but are usually found on or in the:
Several things can lead to petechiae, ranging from simple and reversible causes to serious illnesses:
Treatment for petechiae varies depending on the cause. For straining or a skin injury, you may not need any treatment. If there is a more serious cause, you may need:
If you have petechiae, you should call your doctor. Some home remedies that may help include:
It’s not possible to prevent all causes of petechiae. But you can help prevent infections that lead to petechiae with some simple strategies:
Petechiae can be a sign of a severe illness or medical emergency, especially in children. Seek medical attention if you have pinpoint red dots on the skin and:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Petechiae are tiny spots of bleeding under the skin. They can be caused by a simple injury, straining or more serious conditions. If you have pinpoint-sized red dots under your skin that spread quickly, or petechiae plus other symptoms, seek medical attention.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 06/29/2021.
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