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The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision May 2020| Content last modified May 2020
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What is a hemangioma?

A hemangioma is a raised red growth on your skin. It's a clump of tiny blood vessels.

  • Hemangiomas are common in babies and are often called strawberry birthmarks

  • Hemangiomas can grow anywhere, but they often occur on your baby's head or neck

  • They grow until your child is about a year old

  • Then, they start shrinking and are usually gone by the time your child is 10

  • When a hemangioma disappears, the skin where it used to be is often discolored or scarred

Adults can get hemangiomas (these are often called cherry angiomas). They're common and harmless.

What causes hemangiomas?

No one knows what causes a clump of blood vessels to form a hemangioma.

What are the symptoms of hemangiomas?

  • There's a bright red or bluish raised area on the skin

  • They don't itch or hurt

  • A small injury can make a hemangioma bleed and form a sore

  • A sore may hurt and take a while to heal

  • Hemangiomas that grow near the eye can block vision

Even if hemangiomas don't cause any medical problems, you may not like how they look.

How do doctors treat hemangiomas?

Most hemangiomas shrink and go away on their own. A hemangioma usually starts shrinking when a baby is 12 to 18 months old. In about 7 out of 10 children, the hemangioma has gone away by age 7.

Because hemangiomas usually go away on their own, doctors don't treat them unless they cause problems. If a hemangioma makes it hard to see or breathe or causes other problems, doctors will:

  • Give medicines (such as propranolol or corticosteroids) to help shrink the hemangioma

  • Sometimes, do laser treatments on the hemangioma

If a sore doesn't heal quickly, doctors treat it with special dressings and ointments.

Doctors don't usually do surgery to remove a hemangioma because that can leave a scar. The scar can be as bothersome as the hemangioma.

Cherry angiomas, found on adults, don't need treatment. If they bother you, a doctor can remove them with an electric needle or scalpel (surgical knife).

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