Heart and Blood Conditions

Immune Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP) Symptoms and Diagnosis

Symptoms of ITP

Having ITP means your child has fewer platelets than normal. Most symptoms of ITP are from bleeding problems:

  • Bleeding more easily than usual
  • Bruising or purplish areas on the skin (purpura). These are caused by bleeding under the skin.
  • Tiny round red spots on the skin (petechiae, or puh-TEE-key-eye) that may look like a rash. These are also caused by bleeding under the skin.
  • Nosebleeds
  • Bleeding from the gums and blood blisters in the mouth
  • Blood in your child's pee (urine) or bowel movements (stool)
  • Any bleeding that is difficult to stop
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding

ITP Diagnosis

Because there are other health problems that can cause low platelet levels, your child's healthcare team will talk to you in detail about your child's health. They will need to know more than your child's platelet level before they know whether your child has ITP. Your child's provider will ask about your child's symptoms, recent illnesses and medicines that may affect platelets. They will also ask about any immune problems that your child might have. 

Your child's healthcare provider will also do the following to find out if your child has ITP:

  • Look for signs of bleeding, bruising or petechia, or other health problems
  • Do blood tests
  • Sometimes, they may need to do a bone marrow test.

Bone marrow tests

If your child needs a bone marrow test, they will get medicine to make them sleep so that they do not feel pain during the procedure. Then, a member of the healthcare team will place a needle into the hip bone and use a syringe to take out a small amount of bone marrow (aspiration). Sometimes, they may also need to take out a very small piece of bone (biopsy). There may be a little soreness in the hip for one to two days after the procedure.