What is Hypersensitivity Angiitis & How is it Treated?|Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis of Hypersensitivity Angiitis

What is Hypersensitivity Angiitis?

Hypersensitivity angiitis is caused due to reaction of the blood vessels to an allergic substance. It is also known as allergic vasculitis as the allergies cause vascular sensitization. Know the symptoms of hypersensitivity angiitis and its causes to understand the condition better. Timely treatment can be provided if the condition is diagnosed within time.

Hypersensitivity angiitis mainly occurs due to bacterial reactions and viral infections, reactions or certain drugs. It majorly affects the blood flow throughout the body causing inflammation and swelling. It can occur as a chronic infection or an intermittent infection affecting the small blood vessels in the body. The symptoms can be identified about 7 to 10 days after the allergic drug or substance has been consumed.

What is Hypersensitivity Angiitis?

Symptoms of Hypersensitivity Angiitis

The symptoms of hypersensitivity angiitis or allergic vasculitis can vary greatly. Some of the general symptoms of hypersensitivity angiitis include:

The primary signs and symptoms of hypersensitivity are spots, patches or rashes on the body, majorly on the lower limbs. Skin sores and blisters can appear on legs, buttocks or trunk.

In addition to skin rashes and inflammation, there is pain in joints and swelling in certain organs due to increase in the size of lymph nodes. Organs like kidneys, gastrointestinal tract, liver, lungs and heart can also be affected by hypersensitivity angiitis. The main symptom of hypersensitivity angiitis in these organs is inflammation. The infection can also affect the brain. Organs affected in the infection may not be common but can be noticed in patients who are severely affected.

Causes of Hypersensitivity Angiitis

The major cause of hypersensitivity angiitis is believed to be an allergic reaction to a specific drug or substance. This specific drug or substance can trigger an infection causing the symptoms. Although specific drug or substance cannot be confirmed to trigger hypersensitivity angiitis, it depends on an individual’s body. Common drugs which may be associated with hypersensitivity angiitis are penicillin, cephalosporin, sulfonamide, phenytoin and allopurinol. Other than these a few medicines used to control blood pressure can also be the trigger cause of hypersensitivity angiitis. Due to no specific list of drugs known that might trigger the disease, it is difficult to state the exact cause of hypersensitivity angiitis. Hypersensitivity angiitis is also said to be related to the genetics of a person.

Apart from genetic reasons, certain diseases or infections can also be some of the trigger causes of hypersensitivity angiitis. These include

The identification of the cause of hypersensitivity angiitis for patients is also done on the basis of their medical history. Thus, whenever individuals are diagnosed of the symptoms of hypersensitivity angiitis, their personal history is studied carefully.

Diagnosis of Hypersensitivity Angiitis

The diagnosis of hypersensitivity angiitis can be made with severe organ dysfunction apart from skin rashes and sores similar to ulcers. Some patients develop a deteriorating condition with intermittent symptom free periods. Biopsy of the skin rashes is done to check the presence of white blood cells around the blood vessels. The infection can occur as a chronic disease or an irregular period of infection and painful body sores and inflammation.

If organs like kidneys and gastrointestinal tracts are majorly affected, the disease can lead to mortality. To confirm the diagnosis of hypersensitivity angiitis, doctors evaluate the symptoms and conduct physical and medical examinations like biopsy and blood tests.

Hypersensitivity angiitis are mostly reported in the following depositions:

  • Race. Hypersensitivity angiitis is reported to majorly affect the people in the western countries though it cannot be associated with any specific skin type or group.
  • Gender. Hypersensitivity can affect both men and women. Hence, no specific sex can remain unaffected from it.
  • Age. Hypersensitivity angiitis can affect people of any age group. It can affect children as well. Hence it is important for people to prevent themselves from the allergic reaction and keep themselves healthy and safe.

Treatments for Hypersensitivity Angiitis

The course of treatment for hypersensitivity angiitis is suggested by the doctors as per the diagnosis of the cause of the disease. There is no specific treatment for hypersensitivity angiitis. The treatment is planned and devised according to the symptoms observed and the underlying cause of hypersensitivity angiitis.

  • If the symptoms of hypersensitivity angiitis are rashes and inflammation of the skin due to reaction of certain drugs being taken, the doctors may suggest stopping the drug immediately. The symptoms may reduce after stopping the drug.
  • If the symptoms persist the doctors may suggest administration of certain antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medicines like aspirin or application of certain medicinal solution for the rashes.
  • The doctors may also suggest the administration of corticosteroids if the anti-inflammatory medicines fail and the symptoms of hypersensitivity angiitis still persist.
  • If the diagnosis and tests show swelling, pain or inflammation in the organs, the doctors may suggest administration of medicines to suppress the pain or other courses of treatment according to the cause of hypersensitivity angiitis.
  • For symptoms which are not severe treatment of hypersensitivity angiitis may include medicines like colchicine, antihistamine and dapsone to reduce the symptoms.

Complications, Prevention and Medical Care

The severity of hypersensitivity angiitis may lead to certain complications. They may also be the result of side effects of certain medicines given for treatment to people who are extremely sensitive to high dosages of certain elements or the whole drug.

The complications of hypersensitivity angiitis may include:

  • Damage to the organs due to severe inflammation.
  • Clots in the blood vessels due to inflammation and swelling.
  • Loss of vision due to damage to the blood vessels in and around the eyes.
  • Infections like sepsis or pneumonia leading to mortality.

For preventive measures, the doctors suggest avoiding intake of any medicine that has caused any allergic reaction in the past. Restricted diet may also be suggested. Also a keen attention to any sudden change in the body like a rash or swelling should be checked and treated immediately. For medical care after treatment of hypersensitivity angiitis, a regular check and complete evaluation of the result of the treatment should be done.


Hypersensitivity angiitis can affect anyone. It may occur as a reaction to certain drug or may be triggered due to certain infections in the body. The course of treatment can vary from person to person considering the cause and symptoms of the disease. Patients with identifiable symptoms can be treated immediately but for a more severe symptom like inflammation of the kidney, a proper diagnosis on the basis of blood test is done. The severity of the disease affecting organs like kidney and gastrointestinal tract can lead to more serious course of treatments including administration of medicines and surgeries. In order to prevent the symptoms of hypersensitivity angiitis, it is important to avoid any medicine or substance that can cause an allergic reaction in the person.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 5, 2017

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