Hypersensitivity vasculitis, also known as leukocytoclastic vasculitis (LCV), is a hypersensitivity reaction to a drug or foreign agent that causes inflammation and damage to blood vessels. The condition occurs when the body produces antibodies against a foreign substance, which is usually a drug. Complexes of these antibodies are then deposited in the blood vessel walls, which causes symptoms such as fever, rash and arthritis to appear.
The condition may be localized to the skin or it may progress to one or more organs in the body. The internal organs most commonly affected by LCV include the gastrointestinal tract and the kidneys. The joints are also commonly affected.
The disorder may be acute (lasting only a few weeks) or chronic (causing recurrent purpuric eruptions). Most patients will recover completely within a couple of weeks if the disease only affects the skin and does not manifest in the organs. While most patients do not require treatment, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and immunosuppressants may be prescribed. In severe cases, treatment with corticosteroids may be necessary.
The incidence of LCV in the United States is unknown, but it is considered a rare condition.
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