Learn About Hypersensitivity Vasculitis

What is the definition of Hypersensitivity Vasculitis?

Hypersensitivity vasculitis is an extreme reaction to a drug, infection, or foreign substance. It leads to inflammation and damage to blood vessels, mainly in the skin. The term is not used much currently because more specific names are considered more precise.

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What are the alternative names for Hypersensitivity Vasculitis?

Cutaneous small vessel vasculitis; Allergic vasculitis; Leukocytoclastic vasculitis

What are the causes of Hypersensitivity Vasculitis?

Hypersensitivity vasculitis, or cutaneous small vessel vasculitis, is caused by:

  • An allergic reaction to a drug or other foreign substance
  • A reaction to an infection

It usually affects people older than age 16.

Often, the cause of the problem cannot be found even with a careful study of medical history.

Hypersensitivity vasculitis may look like systemic, necrotizing vasculitis, which can affect blood vessels throughout the body and not just in the skin. In children, it can look like Henoch-Schonlein purpura.

What are the symptoms of Hypersensitivity Vasculitis?

Symptoms may include:

  • New rash with tender, purple or brownish-red spots over large areas
  • Skin sores mostly located on the legs, buttocks, or trunk
  • Blisters on the skin
  • Hives (urticaria), may last longer than 24 hours
  • Open sores with dead tissue (necrotic ulcers)
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What are the current treatments for Hypersensitivity Vasculitis?

The goal of treatment is to reduce inflammation.

Your provider may prescribe aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or corticosteroids to reduce inflammation of the blood vessels. (Do not give aspirin to children except as advised by your provider).

Your provider will tell you to stop taking medicines that could be causing this condition.

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What is the outlook (prognosis) for Hypersensitivity Vasculitis?

Hypersensitivity vasculitis most often goes away over time. The condition may come back in some people.

People with ongoing vasculitis should be checked for systemic vasculitis.

What are the possible complications of Hypersensitivity Vasculitis?

Complications may include:

  • Lasting damage to the blood vessels or skin with scarring
  • Inflamed blood vessels affecting the internal organs
When should I contact a medical professional for Hypersensitivity Vasculitis?

Call your provider if you have symptoms of hypersensitivity vasculitis.

How do I prevent Hypersensitivity Vasculitis?

Do not take medicines that have caused an allergic reaction in the past.

Vasculitis on the palm
Vasculitis - urticarial on the hand
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What are the Latest Advances for Hypersensitivity Vasculitis?
Henoch-Schönlein Purpura Presenting with Acute Abdomen.
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Dengue associated with severe cutaneous leukocytoclastic vasculitis and pericardial effusion: a case report.
Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date: May 02, 2021
Published By: Diane M. Horowitz, MD, Rheumatology and Internal Medicine, Northwell Health, Great Neck, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

Dinulos JGH. Hypersensitivity syndromes and vasculitis. In: Dinulos JGH, ed. Habif's Clinical Dermatology. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 18.

Jennette JC, Falk RJ, Bacon PA, et al. 2012 revised International Chapel Hill consensus conference nomenclature of vasculitides. Arthritis Rheum. 2013;65(1):1-11. PMID: 23045170 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23045170/.

Patterson JW. The vasculopathic reaction pattern. In: Patterson JW, ed. Weedon's Skin Pathology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 9.

Stone JH. The systemic vasculitides. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 254.

Sunderkötter CH, Zelger B, Chen KR, et al. Nomenclature of cutaneous vasculitis: dermatologic addendum to the 2012 Revised International Chapel Hill Consensus Conference Nomenclature of Vasculitides. Arthritis Rheumatol. 2018;70(2):171-184. PMID: 29136340 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29136340/.