Hypersensitivity Vasculitis

Overview of Hypersensitivity Vasculitis

Hypersensitivity vasculitis is a type of vasculitis. Vasculitis means ‘inflammation (swelling) of blood vessels’ in which blood vessels become thickened, scarring, and weaken.

Hypersensitivity vasculitis (HSV) is an acute form of vasculitis mainly the inflammation of small blood vessels.  It is also known as ‘hypersensitivity angiitis’ or ‘allergic vasculitis’. It usually affects the skin (cutaneous disease) or it may be a cutaneous manifestation of another systemic disease. The organs affected by the systemic disease include; joints, kidneys, and the gastrointestinal tract.


It is more common in adults but affects both males and females equally. HSV lasts for two to three weeks or even more months or years.

Signs and Symptoms of Hypersensitivity Vasculitis

Symptoms of hypersensitivity tend to appear within two to seven days after taking medicines or due to some allergic reaction. The symptoms include;

  • Palpable purpura (red to purple spots on your skin legs, torso buttocks)
  • Skin rashes
  • Blisters on skin
  • Itchy bumps due to allergic reaction
  • Joint pain
  • Swelling in kidneys
  • Mild fever
  • Enlarged lymph nodes (glands that filter blood)

Types of Hypersensitivity Vasculitis

Wegener’s granulomatosis or polyangiitis is one of the types of vasculitis. It is an auto-immune disease, which affects the body's organs; kidneys, upper-respiratory tract, and joints. It is associated with hypersensitivity vasculitis in terms of clinical manifestation i.e. HSV symptoms. 

Causes of Hypersensitivity Vasculitis

In about 50% of cases of hypersensitivity vasculitis, the cause is unknown (idiopathic). Skin inflammation is caused by;

  • Some antibiotics i.e. sulfa drugs and penicillin
  • Blood pressure medicines
  • Diuretics (urine drugs)
  • Allergic substance
  • Certain viral infections (hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV)
  • Autoimmune diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, inflammatory bowel disease)
  • Bacterial infections e.g. upper-respiratory infection caused by beta-hemolytic streptococcal
  • Certain food or food additives
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Tumor at any site

Risk Factors of Hypersensitivity Vasculitis

Some of the risk factors that increase the risk of hypersensitivity vasculitis are:

  • Female gender 
  • HIV 
  • Herpes 
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus development 

Complications of Hypersensitivity Vasculitis 



One of the best ways to prevent vasculitis is to regularly see your doctor, undergo tests and regularly check your blood pressure. Also having a very well-balanced diet can help with vasculitis.



A doctor will ask you about your medical history and perform a physical examination of HSV symptoms. After this, some tests are prescribed to rule out the vasculitis cause.

  1. Blood Tests: Various blood tests are done such as a C-reactive protein test (for inflammation) and a complete blood count test to check the effect of certain antibiotics i.e. anti-neutrophils.
  2. Urine Test: A urine test is done to detect the level of protein or blood in the urine that will help to diagnose affected kidneys.
  3. Imaging Tests: Imaging tests can help to monitor affected blood vessels and organs. Imaging tests include; X-rays, computerized tomography (CT-scan), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and positron emission tomography (PET).
  4. Biopsy: In a biopsy, a small tissue sample is cut from an affected area in order to evaluate the signs of vasculitis.

Treatment of Hypersensitivity Vasculitis | When to Consult a Doctor

In mild cases of hypersensitivity vasculitis, no treatment is required. It will recover on its own. However, if the condition continues for a longer time then you should consult a certified rheumatologist near you.

If HSV is due to some allergic reactions or side-effects of antibiotics or allergens in current use, then the doctor will advise you to stop their use. The doctor will prescribe you some medicines in case of swelling or joint pain i.e. anti-inflammatory, and non-steroidal drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen. If anti-inflammatory drugs do not work, then the doctor will give you some corticosteroids that will suppress your immune system in order to reduce inflammation. Corticosteroids are given in rare cases because they can produce some side effects.

Don’t self-diagnose your symptoms and always consult your doctor before taking any medicine, even the normal painkillers.