Solar Purpura

Solar purpura, also called traumatic purpura, is common in the elderly. The condition produces large purple bruises and tearing of the skin following even minor trauma.

What Causes Solar Purpura?

Skin damage caused by years of sun exposure can lead to solar purpura. Ultraviolet light (UV) can damage the skin’s connective tissue making the skin thin and less elastic. When this happens, small blood vessels under the skin easily tear causing areas of bruising.

Signs & Symptoms of Solar Purpura

Patients with solar purpura usually have multiple areas of discoloration that develop primarily on the forearms and hands. The skin is so fragile and easily damaged that the individual often doesn’t even remember the incident that caused the damage.

The condition is worse in elderly adults who are on blood thinners or aspirin therapy.

Treatment of Solar Purpura

Although many patients with the solar purpura are concerned about the cosmetic appearance of the skin, the condition is harmless. Solar purpura is NOT associated with cancer.

Most of the damage from solar purpura resolves without treatment within three weeks, but yellowed areas may persist for months even after the blood is reabsorbed and the blue/purple areas begin to fade.

There is no treatment for solar purpura, but moisturizing creams or lotions may improve elasticity and lessen further damage. It’s also important to protect the skin from further sun damage by applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher any time you are outdoors and avoiding indoor tanning beds and lamps. Covering the arms and legs with tight weave long sleeves and pants offers further protection.

If your doctor has prescribed blood thinners or aspirin for a medical condition, discuss your concerns about solar purpura and ask whether or not the dosage can be adjusted.

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