Saturday, January 14, 2006

bruises (senile purpura)

Senile purpura is a common condition of easy bruisability seen most commonly on forearms and legs of older individuals. It is usually caused by the loss of subcutaneous (under the skin) fat and is occasionally caused by the excessive use of aspirin or other blood thinners. Thrombocytopenia (lack of platelets), steroids, diabetes mellitus, vasculitis (blood vessel inflammation), scurvy, and connective tissue diseases may also be contributing factors.
Symptoms of senile purpura include purple bruises with small red patches on the skin, which fade to a permanent brown pigmented area over a span of a few weeks. There is no treatment for senile purpura, unless it is caused by certain drugs. If so, the medications may be altered to reduce the senile purpura. Otherwise, the therapy of full explanation and reassurance may be the best treatment for senile purpura. If senile purpura does not seem to be in exposed areas, the capillary fragility test may be useful in distinguishing whether ecchymoses (the escape of blood into the tissue from leaking blood vessels) are due to a bleeding disorder or to trauma. Other tests for suspected clinical entities might be necessary, such as blood sugars, skin biopsy, blood cultures, or platelet vitamin C levels.
Rossman, I. Clinical Geriatrics, 3rd ed. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Co., 1986.
Steinberg, F. U. Care of the Geriatric Patient, 6th ed. St. Louis: C. V. Mosby, 1983.

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