What Is Solar Purpura Bruising?

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Solar purpura—also known as senile purpura—is a condition that causes the formation of purple-colored spots or bruises on the skin. Purpura can sometimes also develop in the lining of the mouth and the mucus membranes. This condition happens when small blood vessels leak under the skin.

Solar purpura is a common condition in people over age 50. The causes include excessive exposure to sunlight and taking certain medications.

This article discusses the symptoms, causes, and ways to manage solar purpura.

solar purpura

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Symptoms

Symptoms of solar purpura include purple-colored bruises, patches, and spots on the skin. The color can range from a reddish purple to a very dark purple. The condition is more pronounced in people who have fair skin. The area of the discoloration is well defined and ranges between 4 millimeters and 10 millimeters in diameter.

The bruises most commonly appear in the areas of the body exposed to the sun, such as the hands, arms, and legs. You also can get the bruises on your face, but it is not common.

Mild symptoms of solar purpura typically clear up on their own.

Causes

When solar purpura occurs, it is due to leaking blood vessels under the skin.

As you age, your skin naturally gets thinner and blood vessels become weaker.

Some of the causes include:

  • Excessive sun exposure
  • A minor trauma
  • The use of certain medications, such as blood thinners or steroids

Managing Solar Purpura

Most bruises heal by themselves. But when you are older and get a bruise, you also can get small cuts and tears in the area of the bruising. These can be treated like a normal cut.

Since ultraviolet (UV) exposure is one of the causes of solar purpura, using sunscreen and wearing protective clothing when out in the sun can be helpful.

If there is no additional trauma to the bruised area, it will clear up on its own.

Although there is no cure, research has been conducted into therapies that could reduce the appearance of bruises due to solar purpura.

In one study, 70 participants were divided into two groups either receiving a placebo or a citrus bioflavanoid blend, which is a supplement containing compounds found in citrus fruits and other plants.

Participants who took the citrus bioflavanoid blend two times a day for six weeks showed a significant improvement in the number of new lesions, and the treatment safely diminished the bruising.

Complications

Some of the complications that people with solar purpura may have are skin cuts and tears. Due to weakened blood vessels and age-related thinning skin, the skin can tear and cut easier.

If a person with the condition bumps into something, an additional bruise can develop.

Although this condition is known to clear up on its own, at times new lesions can occur and leave a brown discoloration. This can clear up over months or leave a permanent scar. Solar purpura is also known to return.

While the appearance of solar purpura may be bothersome, it is not a sign of something serious.

A Word From Verywell

If you are diagnosed with solar purpura, don’t panic. This is a common condition in people over the age of 50. A healthcare provider can help you address any questions and concerns that you have.

Although the spots associated with solar purpura may not have the most pleasant appearance, they are harmless. However, it is important to pay attention to your skin and to reach out to a healthcare provider if you feel or see any changes regarding your condition.

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  1. MedlinePlus. Purpura. Updated April 26, 2019.

  2. Berlin JM, Eisenberg DP, Berlin MB, Sarro RA, Leeman DR, Fein H. A randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study to evaluate the efficacy of a citrus bioflavanoid blend in the treatment of senile purpura. J Drugs Dermatol. 2011 Jul;10(7):718-22.