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Pyogenic Granulomas

By Denise M. Aaron, MD, Assistant Professor of Surgery;Staff Physician, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center;Veterans Administration Medical Center, White River Junction

Pyogenic granulomas are fleshy, moist or crusty, and red or reddish brown slightly raised bumps caused by an increased growth of capillaries (the smallest blood vessels) and swelling of the surrounding tissue.

The bump develops rapidly, usually after injury to the skin (the injury is sometimes not noticed). For unknown reasons, pyogenic granulomas may also develop during pregnancy, appearing even on the gums (pregnancy tumors).

Pyogenic granulomas are typically ¼ to ¾ inches (about 0.5 to 2 centimeters) in diameter and rise from the surface of the skin. They do not hurt but they tend to bleed easily when bumped or scratched because they consist almost entirely of capillaries.

To diagnose pyogenic granulomas, a doctor removes a sample of the tissue and sends it to a laboratory (biopsy) to ensure that the growth is not a type of skin cancer.

Pyogenic granulomas sometimes disappear by themselves. If they persist, a doctor usually removes them surgically or with an electric needle (electrodesiccation). Sometimes pyogenic granulomas grow back after treatment.

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