Intended for healthcare professionals
Patient information

What I tell my patients about... Vasculitis

Vasculitis is a term used to describe a rare group of disorders in which there is inflammation and damage targeted at the blood vessels in the body. The condition can affect all blood vessels including arteries, veins and capillaries. Vasculitis can affect people differently, with some experiencing only mild illness with only one organ involved, while others develop a more aggressive form of the disease which affects several organs and can be life threatening.


Unfortunately, the exact cause of vasculitis remains unknown, and the disease can be difficult to diagnose as it often presents with non-specific symptoms that can occur over a period of weeks and months.


This articles outlines what we currently know about the disease, covering its potential causes, its diagnosis, the different types of vasculitis, the signs and symptoms and which organs can be involved (including the gut, skin and kidneys), the range of treatments available (including steroids and cyclophosphamide), whether it can recur, and information sources for further reading.


Key points include:

  • Vasculitis can affect several organs of the body and presents in a multitude of different ways. 
  • Diagnosis can be challenging and may require a biopsy and other investigations.
  • Treatment is a form of immunosuppression and can be divided into initial treatment to get the disease under control and maintenance treatment. 
  • Vaccination and certain prophylactic drugs can reduce the risk of infections, bone damage and gastritis.
Dermatology in practice 2021; 27(1): 14–16
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