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Hemangioma

A hemangioma is a buildup of blood vessels in the skin or internal organs that is not normal.

Alternative Names

Cavernous hemangioma; Strawberry nevus

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

About 1in 3 hemangiomas are present at birth. The rest appear in the first several months of life.

The hemangioma may be:

  • In the top skin layers (capillary hemangioma )
  • Deeper in the skin (cavernous hemangioma)
  • A mixture of both

Symptoms

  • A red to reddish-purple, raised sore (lesion) on the skin
  • A massive, raised tumor with blood vessels

Most hemangiomas are on the face and neck.

Signs and tests

The health care provider give you a physical exam to diagnose the hemangiomas are diagnosed. If the build up of blood vessels is deep within the body, you may need a CT or MRI scan. 

A hemangioma may occur with other rare conditions. You may need other tests to check for related problems. 

Treatment

Superficial or "strawberry" hemangiomas may not need treatment. They often go away their own, the appearance of the skin returns to normal. In some cases, a laser may be used to remove the small vessels.

Cavernous hemangiomas that involve the eyelid and block vision can be treated with lasers or steroid injections to shrink the mass. This allows vision to develop normally. Large cavernous hemangiomas or mixed hemangiomas may be treated with steroids either as oral medicines or injections into the hemangioma.

Taking beta-blocker medicines such as propranolol may also help reduce the size of a hemangioma.

Expectations (prognosis)

Small, superficial hemangiomas often disappear on their own. About half go away by age 5, and almost all disappear by age 9.

Complications

  • Bleeding (especially if the hemangioma is injured)
  • Problems with breathing and eating
  • Psychological problems, from skin appearance
  • Secondary infections and sores
  • Visible changes in the skin
  • Vision problems (amblyopia , strabismus )

Calling your health care provider

All birthmarks, including hemangiomas, should be evaluated by the health care provider during a regular exam. 

Hemangiomas of the eyelid may cause problems with vision must be treated soon after birth. Hemangiomas that interfere with eating or breathing also need to be treated early.

Call your doctor if a hemangioma is bleeding or develops a sore.

Prevention

There is no known way to prevent hemangiomas.

References

Habif TP. Vascular tumors and malformations. In: Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology. 5th ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 23.

Morelli JG. Vascular Disorders. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 642.



 

Updated: 11/20/2012

Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.


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