What You Need to Know about Leukocytoclastic Vasculitis

What You Need to Know About Leukocytoclastic Vasculitis (LAV)

Leukocytoclastic vasculitis is a rare form of blood disorder which causes red streaks appearing in the skin and other tissues. These streaks are caused by the abnormal accumulation of white blood cells called neutrophils. They cause inflammation, swelling, pain and sometimes even death due to their high activity level.

The disease is characterized by a sudden onset of symptoms with no known trigger. Symptoms usually appear within one week after exposure to an allergen or virus such as peanuts, bee stings, animal bites, insect bites and sunburn. Most patients experience only minor symptoms but some develop severe complications such as anaphylactic shock and pulmonary edema.

In most cases the condition resolves spontaneously without any intervention; however it can recur if not treated promptly. Treatment options include antifungal drugs, immunosuppressive medications and anti-inflammatory agents.


Rash, itching, pain and swelling at the site of contact with the allergen or virus. Usually occurs in the armpits and groin area.

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Nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhea are common side effects of these medications. Some patients have had difficulty breathing during therapy due to increased mucus production from allergic reactions.

Loss of consciousness, anaphylactic shock and hypotension can be life-threatening conditions that may occur during treatment.

Tiny clots can also develop in the blood vessels, causing lack of blood supply to vital organs such as the brain and heart.


High chance of recovery with proper medical treatment. No permanent complications or organ failure have been reported so far.


Insect bites and stings can be prevented by the application of an ointment that contains alpha-methyl-antitrypsin. It is available over-the-counter in a generic form. A prescription drug called Atopex can also be used as a preventive measure.

Animal bites should be cleaned properly and any open wounds should be covered with a waterproof bandage until healed.

In case of an allergic reaction to poison ivy, oak or sumac, patients should immediately wash the affected area with lots of soap and water. The rash can also be treated with topical steroid creams and antihistamines if needed.

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In some cases, blood transfusion can be considered if there is a severe decline in blood platelets.

How is it diagnosed?

Sources & references used in this article:

Cutaneous leukocytoclastic vasculitis associated with letrozole by A Digklia, E Tzika… – Journal of Oncology …, 2014 – journals.sagepub.com

Leukocytoclastic vasculitis (hypersensitivity vasculitis) by D Baigrie, JS Crane – 2019 – europepmc.org

Leukocytoclastic vasculitis associated with nontyphoidal Salmonella in a patient infected with human immunodeficiency virus by G Cornejo-Venegas… – … journal of STD & …, 2020 – journals.sagepub.com

Clinical approach to cutaneous vasculitis by MA Gonzalez-Gay, C Garcia-Porrua… – Current opinion in …, 2005 – journals.lww.com

Vasculitis—what do we have to know? A review of literature by E Shavit, A Alavi, RG Sibbald – The international journal of …, 2018 – journals.sagepub.com

Ritodrine-induced leukocytoclastic vasculitis in pregnancy by JC Cobeta-García, P García-Enguita… – Annals of …, 2004 – journals.sagepub.com