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Henoch-Schonlein Purpura (HSP): Overview

What is Henoch-Schonlein Purpura (HSP)?

Henoch-Schonlein Purpura (HSP) is a disease of inflammation of blood vessels, also known as vasculitis. The inflammation of the blood vessels under the skin causes a painful rash, in addition to stomach and joint pain.

Henoch and Schonlein are the names of the doctors who first described this condition and "purpura" is the name of the type of skin rash that first brings the disease to your attention.

What causes HSP?

The inflammation of blood vessels under the skin is what causes the rash and painful aches in joints and other organs in the body, especially the kidneys. The filters in your kidneys (called glomeruli) are actually very complicated blood vessels.

Glomerulonephritis is the disease of the kidney filters. In this case, the cause of the glomerulonephritis is the HSP, or vasculitis. As is the case with any form of glomerulonephritis, when HSP affects the kidneys, blood leaks from the filters (glomeruli) into the urine (hematuria). If the condition is more severe, protein leaks too.

Who gets HSP?

Anyone can get HSP or vasculitis. If you think your child has HSP, see your pediatrician or family doctor. A kidney specialist for kids, called a pediatric nephrologist, may consult with your doctor and treat serious cases.