What is a hemangioma?

A hemangioma, once known specifically as a strawberry hemangioma, is a birthmark that appears as a bright red patch or a nodule of extra blood vessels in 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.

What are the signs/symptoms of a hemangioma?

A hemangioma, which is sometimes referred to as infantile hemangioma, may be present at birth or appear during the first several weeks of life. It starts out as a flat red mark anywhere on the body, most often the face, scalp or back of the neck. During first year of life, the red mark becomes a spongy mass that protrudes from the skin—-often growing rapidly up to 2 or 3 inches (about 5 to 7.5 centimeters) in diameter. The hemangioma then stops growing and enters a rest phase. Eventually, it begins to slowly disappear.

What causes a hemangioma?

A hemangioma consists of an abnormally dense group of extra blood vessels. It’s not clear what causes the blood vessels to group together.

Are there any complications with a hemangioma?

Ulceration is the most common complication. It may lead to pain, infection, bleeding scarring, may interfere with sleeping/feeding habits. Early white discoloration can be a clue that the lesion is going to ulcerate. Hemangiomas in general may block vision, affect feeding/breathing/ hearing. However, please remember most have a benign course.

What is the outlook for a hemangioma?

30% resolve by the child’s 3rd birthday; 50% resolve by the 5th birthday and 70% of hemangiomas resolve by the 7th birthday. We can use the estimate above to say that 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 may remain.

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