A hemangioma — once known as a strawberry
hemangioma — is a birthmark that appears as a bright red patch or a
nodule of extra blood vessels in the skin. It grows during the first
year of life, and then recedes over time. A hemangioma is usually benign
and isn't associated with other medical conditions.
Most often hemangioma doesn't require treatment. By age 10, a child who
had a hemangioma in infancy usually has little visible trace of the
A hemangioma, which is sometimes referred to as infantile hemangioma,
may be present at birth but more often appears during the first several
weeks of life. It starts out as a flat red mark anywhere on the body,
most often on the face, scalp or back of the neck. Usually a child has
only one mark, but some children may have more than one, particularly if
they're part of a multiple birth.
During your child's first year, the red mark becomes a spongy mass that
protrudes from the skin — often growing rapidly to 2 or 3 inches (about 5
to 7.6 centimeters) in diameter. The hemangioma then stops growing and
enters a rest phase. Eventually, it begins to slowly disappear.
Half of all hemangiomas resolve by age 5, and nearly all hemangiomas are
resolved by age 10. Although the color of the birthmark also fades,
faint — but permanent — discoloration of the skin or residual extra skin
When to see a doctor
Your child's doctor will monitor the hemangioma during routine checkups.
Contact your child's doctor between visits if the hemangioma bleeds,
forms a sore or bruise, becomes firm, appears infected, or grows
suddenly over one or two days.
There are other blood vessel growths that can be present at birth that
aren't true hemangiomas, such as port wine stains and vascular
formations that may require medical attention. You may need to consult a
dermatologist if you're concerned your child's birthmark isn't an
A hemangioma consists of an abnormally dense group of extra blood
vessels. It's not clear what causes the blood vessels to group together,
although some research suggests a link between hemangiomas and certain
proteins produced by the placenta during pregnancy.
Hemangiomas occur more often in:
* Premature babies
* White infants
Occasionally, a hemangioma can break down and develop a sore. This can
lead to pain, bleeding, scarring or infection. Depending on where the
hemangioma is situated, it may interfere with your child's vision,
breathing, hearing or elimination, but this is rare.
Read this article on Mayoclinic.com.
Expand Arrow DownTests and diagnosis
A hemangioma is diagnosed based on appearance. Diagnostic tests aren't usually needed.
Treatments and drugs
The majority of hemangiomas never need any form of treatment. Treatment
of hemangiomas is somewhat controversial. Some parents feel that
hemangioma treatment is necessary because the marks can be disfiguring
and may cause social or psychological problems. Doctors, however, may be
hesitant to treat a hemangioma that isn't causing physical problems
because hemangiomas usually fade gradually without treatment, and
because treatments have potential side effects. If the growth interferes
with your child's vision or causes other problems, treatment options
* Laser surgery. Lasers can stop the growth of a hemangioma.
Sometimes lasers can be used to remove a hemangioma or treat sores on a
hemangioma that won't heal. The risks are potentially serious and
include pain, infection, bleeding, scarring and changes in skin color.
* Corticosteroid medications. Corticosteroids can be injected, given
by mouth or applied to the skin. These medications are most effective
when they're given during the growth phase. They're used to stop the
growth of the hemangioma and sometimes reverse it. Long-term or repeated
treatment may be needed. The risks are potentially serious and include
poor growth, high blood sugar, high blood pressure and clouding of the
normally clear lens of the eye (cataract).
Research to find other treatments with fewer side effects is ongoing.
Some newer, though still experimental, treatments include beta blockers,
interferon alfa and topical immune suppressants.
If you're considering treatment for your child's hemangioma, weigh the
pros and cons with your child's doctor. Remember, most infantile
hemangiomas disappear on their own during childhood.