Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

People with thrombocytopaenia can have frequent nosebleeds.

People with thrombocytopaenia can have frequent nosebleeds.
beginning of content


3-minute read

On this page

What is thrombocytopenia?

What are the symptoms of thrombocytopenia?

What causes thrombocytopenia?

How is thrombocytopenia diagnosed?

How is thrombocytopenia treated?

What is thrombocytopenia?

In thrombocytopenia, platelets (also called thrombocytes) are low in number, which can result in bleeding problems. Platelets are blood cells important for helping blood to clot. Platelets may be low in number if there is not enough of them being made, if they are being destroyed or if they are being trapped in the spleen. The spleen is an organ that acts as a filter of your blood and sits in your abdomen, under the ribs on the left.

Thrombocytopenia is more common in children than adults but it is still very rare. In children it usually goes away by itself. In many adults it does not get better but it usually does not need any treatment.

Back to top

What are the symptoms of thrombocytopenia?

People with thrombocytopenia can:

  • bruise easily
  • have nose bleeds or bleeding gums
  • have pinpoint bleeding in the skin that looks like a rash (known as petechiae)
  • have cuts that keep bleeding
  • feel tired

In rare cases, dangerous internal bleeding may occur.

If you are worried that you or your child has thrombocytopenia, visit your doctor.

For bleeding that won’t stop, go to your local emergency department or call triple zero (000).

Back to top

What causes thrombocytopenia?

Thrombocytopaenia may be due to:

Back to top

How is thrombocytopenia diagnosed?

Your doctor will examine you and probably order blood tests. If you have thrombocytopenia, blood tests show a low platelet count.

You may have other tests to investigate the cause of the thrombocytopenia, and your doctor may refer you to a specialist.

How is thrombocytopenia treated?

Depending on the cause and severity of the thrombocytopenia, treatments may include:

  • watching and waiting, as thrombocytopenia often gets better by itself
  • treating the cause, for example, treating an underlying cancer, or stopping medications that can cause thrombocytopenia
  • steroids to boost platelet numbers

In more severe cases, you may need:

  • platelet transfusion
  • intravenous immunoglobulin (a type of blood transfusion)
  • surgery to remove the spleen

You may also have to:

During treatment, you will need regular blood tests and reviews with your doctor.

Back to top

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: August 2019

Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Platelet count - Lab Tests Online AU

Why and when to get tested for platelets

Read more on Lab Tests Online AU website

Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) - Better Health Channel

Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) is a rare autoimmune disorder in which a person?s immune system destroys the platelets that help their blood to clot.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Platelet | Australian Red Cross Lifeblood

Platelet transfusion may be required if you have a low platelet count (thrombocytopaenia). Platelets assist with forming blood clots.

Read more on Australian Red Cross Lifeblood website

Cardiolipin - Lab Tests Online AU

Why and when to get tested for cardiolipin

Read more on Lab Tests Online AU website

Measles, Mumps And Rubella (MMR) Vaccine | SA Health

Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine recommendations, possible side effects and how to reduce the side effects

Read more on SA Health website

Rubella fact sheet - Fact sheets

Rubella is caused by infection with a virus. Infection is usually mild, but can cause serious damage to unborn babies. Immunisation is recommended for all children at 12 months and 18 months of age.

Read more on NSW Health website

Full blood count (FBC) -

A full blood count (FBC) is a common blood test that measures the number and status of different blood cells, such as red cells, white cells and platelets.

Read more on myDr website

Blood count - Better Health Channel

The full blood count (FBC) test looks for abnormalities in the blood, such as unusually high or low numbers of blood cells.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

The bone marrow and blood formation | Leukaemia Foundation

Information about the bone marrow, blood formation, and the roles of red blood cells and white blood cells.

Read more on Leukaemia Foundation website

Blood and bleeding -

Blood makes up about 8 per cent of a person's body weight. In a normal-sized adult, there are about 5 litres of it. Blood is not a single substance, but a suspension of several components, held together in a straw-coloured fluid called plasma.

Read more on myDr website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo