Petechia are numerous small (less then 3mm) red or purple spots on the skin or other visible tissues (such as those in the mouth or throat) caused by broken capilliaries. They are, by definition, smaller than purpura. They are most often caused by trauma and usually appear around the eyes after a bout of severe coughing, vomiting or crying. Less often, they are a sign of thrombocytopenia or when too much pressure is applied to tissue (often, a tourniquet used to stop bleeding). They can be a sign of serious illness, particularly in children, such as meningococcemia or leukemia. However, they are non-specific and can be caused by any of a number of infections and other non-infectious diseases.

Petechia at Wikipedia

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