May 12, 2015 Post By: Children's Health

Autoimmune Disease HSP Typically Includes Red Rash
A young both with the autoimmune disease HSP was diffiicuilt to diagnose because he didn't have the hallmark symptom — a rash of red spots.

Henoch-Schönlein Purpura (HSP) is a painful autoimmune disease where  the small blood vessels in the skin, intestines and kidneys are swollen and irritated. The main symptom is a rash that starts off as red spots and  within 3-6 days turns purple and looks like a bruise.

When kindergarten started earlier this year, Bodie Parra's chair was empty. The 6-year-old was at Children's Medical Center Dallas, hooked to IVs, battling a severe case of HSP.

But now, thanks to careful diagnostic work by Bradley Barth, M.D., Clinical Director of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition at Children's — along with top-notch care from the Children's team, a strong course of steroids, and a lot of love and care — Bodie is hard at work on art projects, learning about the letter W, and playing on the playground with his fellow classmates.

A Non-Typical HSP Diagnosis

What made Bodie’s case tricky to diagnose at first is that he didn’t have the hallmark symptom of HSP — a rash of red spots — until later. The family had just gotten home from vacation when Bodie got what appeared to be a stomach bug. But when the pain got much worse and stopped acting like a stomach bug, a friend suggested to Bodie’s mom, Alexa, that she make an appointment with Dr. Barth.

When Alexa casually mentioned that Bodie had developed a rash, Dr. Barth put the pieces together. “I had seen this before: the pain is very puzzling until the rash comes on,” he says. The diagnosis was the very important first step, but Bodie still spent more than a week in the hospital at Children's Medical Center Dallas, as doctors managed his pain and treated him for the gastrointestinal disorder.

“It was really hard to see him so sick,” Alexa says. But having Dr. Barth so accessible definitely helped her get through the toughest parts. “I would text him, and he would immediately answer my questions,” she says.

After being released from the hospital, Bodie has conveniently had his follow up visits in his hometown of Southlake with Dr. Barth, who is also part of the Gastroenterology team at the Children's Specialty Care Center in Southlake