A hemangioma is a type of birthmark. It develops shortly after birth, usually on the head or neck. It may be close to the surface of the skin or deeper below the skin.
For most, a hemangioma will grow quickly and then slowly disappear over time. It is often gone before puberty. If your child develops a birthmark that grows, talk to a doctor.
A hemangioma is a cluster of blood vessels that do not form properly. It is not known what cause hemangiomas. It is also unclear what makes them grow or disappear.
Hemangiomas are more common in Caucasian baby girls. Other factors that may increase a baby's chance of a hemangioma include: Premature birthPHACE syndrome
Symptoms will depend on the location of the hemangioma:
A hemangioma that is close to the surface of the skin:
Appears as red strawberry-like or purple bump on the skinMay continue to grow and spreadA hemangioma that is deeper under the skin will appear as bluish swelling under the skin
Most hemangiomas have no further symptoms. However, some large hemangiomas may lead to: Ulceration—deep sores in the skinScarringDisfigurementProblems with growth and function of structures nearby, such as the eyes or airwayAbnormalities of the blood vessels of the eye or brain (associated with some hemangiomas of the face)Hemangiomas in other locations can be associated with heart, kidney, gastrointestinal, brain, or spinal abnormalities
You will be asked about your child’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Some hemangiomas are obvious with physical exam. If there is any question, your doctor may recommend testing. Tests may also be done to determine the size and effect on nearby organs.
Imaging tests can evaluate the hemangioma and surrounding structures. These may include: CT scanMRI scanAngiography
Most hemangiomas will resolve on their own and do not require any treatment. The mark will significantly fade by age 5 and nearly disappear by puberty. Your doctor may only recommend monitoring during the growth period.
If the hemangioma is causing problems, one or more of the following treatments may be advised: Dressings to help prevent infections in ulcerated areas of the skin and to control oozing
Medication may include:
Acetaminophen for pain reliefBeta blockers, steroids, or vincristine (rarely) to help shrink the hemangiomaTopical ointments to help with wound healing and pain reliefAntibiotics may speed healing with or without the presence of a bacterial infectionSurgery—particularly for hemangiomas that are causing pain, or problems with sight or breathingLasers—most effective on superficial hemangiomas
If ulcers have developed, more aggressive treatment may be needed. It may require a combination of treatments above.
There are no current guidelines to prevent hemangiomas because their cause is unknown.
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Haggstrom AN, Frieden, IJ. Hemangiomas: Past, present, and future.
J Am Acad Dermatol. 2004;51: S50-52.
Luu M, Frieden IJ. Haemangioma: clinical course, complications and management.
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Last reviewed December 2015 by Marcin Chwistek, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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