Also Known as Pigmented Purpura
Capillaritis is the name given to a harmless skin condition in which there are reddish-brown patches caused by leaky capillaries.
The capillaries are small blood vessels near to the skin surface. For unknown reasons they sometimes become inflamed, although a true vasculitis is not seen on skin biopsy. Blood cells may pass through small gaps that arise between the cells, which make up the capillary walls. The result is tiny red dots appear on the skin, described as cayenne pepper spots. They group together to form a flat red patch, which becomes brown and then slowly fades away over weeks to months.
There is no known cure for most cases of capillaritis. It can disappear within a few weeks, recur from time to time, or frequently persist for years.
- Consider if a medication could be the cause: discontinue it for several months to find out if the capillaritis improves
- Try avoiding food preservatives and artificial colouring agents. Return to a normal diet if there is no improvement after several months.
- Topical steroids can be helpful for itching but rarely clear the capillaritis.
- If the lower leg is affected, consider wearing graduated compression elastic hose.
- Currently available lasers are not particularly helpful for this condition.
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