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. Hemangiomas may need medical treatment.
A hemangioma is a cluster of blood vessels that do not form normally. It is not known what cause hemangiomas. It is also unclear on what makes them grow, or disappear.
Factors that increase a baby's chance of a hemangioma include:
Symptoms will depend on the location of the hemangioma:
Most hemangiomas have no further symptoms. However, some large hemangiomas may lead to:
The doctor will ask 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 local organs.
Tests that can make a picture of the hemangioma and surrounding structures include:
Most hemangiomas will resolve on their own. The mark will significantly fade by age five and nearly disappear by puberty. Your doctor may only recommend monitoring during the growth period.
If the hemangioma is causing problems your doctor may recommend one of the following treatments:
If ulcers have developed more aggressive treatment may be needed. It may require a combination of treatments above.
American Academy of Dermatology
Vascular Birthmarks Foundation
Sturge-Weber Syndrome Community Canada (SWSCC)
Bruckner AL, Frieden IJ. Hemangiomas of infancy. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2003;48:477-493.
Burton BK, Schulz CJ, et al. An increased incidence of haemangiomas in infants born following chorionic villus sampling (CVS). Prenat Diagn. 1995;15:209-214.
Haggstrom AN, Frieden, IJ. Hemangiomas: Past, present, and future. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2004;51: S50-52.
Hemangioma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated December 23, 2011. Accessed November 12, 2012.
10/25/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php: Haggstrom AN, Garzon MC, Baselga E, et al. Risk for PHACE syndrome in infants with large facial hemangiomas. Pediatrics. 2010;126(2):e418-426.
Last reviewed November 2012 by Michael Woods, 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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