Purpura fulminans

Purpura fulminans

Purpura fulminans is a haemorrhagic condition usually associated with sepsis or previous infection. It occurs mainly in babies and small children.

It was first described by Guelliot in 1884.


It is a life-threatening disorder of acute onset. It is characterized by cutaneous haemorrhage and necrosis (tissue death), low blood pressure, fever and disseminated intravascular coagulation.


Common causes are severe infection (especially with meningococcus and Gram-negative organisms), and deficiency of the natural anticoagulants protein C or protein S in the blood. In some cases, a cause is never found.


Treatment is mainly by removing the underlying cause and with supportive treatment. In many cases, digits may need to be amputated when their blood supply has ceased completely.


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