The smallest component of blood, platelets play an important role in wound healing; more specifically, they are essential for normal blood clotting. After receiving a signal of an injury, platelets travel to damage sites, where they clump together to form clots—gel-like masses that stop the bleeding. From there, they release substances that promote healing. Unfortunately, some people’s platelets do not function as they should; as a result, these individuals are more prone to bleeding or bruising. Almost all platelet disorders are inherited, caused by autosomal recessive genes.
Thrombocytopenia describes abnormally low levels of platelets in the blood. Depending on the severity, this condition may or may not include noticeable symptoms. The most common sign is tiny purple spots on the skin. Rarely, thrombocytopenia may also cause bleeding inside or outside the body. Some of the most common causes are blood disorders, cancer such as lymphoma or leukemia, viruses, or chemotherapy.