Definition of Schonlein-Henoch purpura

Reviewed on 3/29/2021

Schonlein-Henoch purpura: A form of blood vessel inflammation (vasculitis) that typically affects small arterial vessels (capillaries) in the skin, kidneys, and intestinal tract. The disease presents characteristically as a skin rash associated with joint inflammation (arthritis) and cramping pain in the abdomen. The rash is purpuric due to bleeding into the skin and there be hives and areas of redness. Schönlein-Henoch purpura frequently follows a bacterial or viral infection of the respiratory tract and is an abnormal reaction of the immune system to the infection. It occurs most commonly in children. The illness is usually mild and resolves spontaneously but sometimes can cause serious problems in the kidneys and intestinal tract. Treatment is directed toward the most significant area of involvement. Joint pain can be relieved by anti-inflammatory medications, such as aspirin or ibuprofen. Some patients can require cortisone-related medications, such as prednisone, especially those with significant abdominal pain or kidney disease.

Named for the German physicians Johann Lukas Schönlein (1793-1864) and Eduard Heinrich Henoch (1820-1910). Schönlein's name should come first because he was the first person to recognize the condition and did so in 1837. Henoch in 1868 reported the first case of a patient with colic, bloody diarrhea, painful joints, and a rash. Also known as allergic purpura, anaphylactoid purpura, and Schonlein-Henoch syndrome.


The term arthritis refers to stiffness in the joints. See Answer

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