A hemangioma (Hee-MAN-jee-oh-ma) is a common type of birthmark. It is a benign (non-cancerous) growth in the skin cells. The exact cause is not known. Hemangiomas are not inherited, but others in the family may have had them also. The color will vary, depending on the depth of the hemangioma. They are more common in girls than in boys, and more common in premature infants and twins.
Most hemangiomas appear during the first weeks of life and grow rapidly for 6 to 12 months. After the period of rapid growth, the hemangioma begins to slowly shrink and fade in color over the next 1 to 10 years. Many go away completely during this time. By the age of 5, half of all hemangiomas will be flat and lighter in color. By age 10, nearly all are gone or only faintly visible. Some hemangiomas leave behind fatty tissue or thin skin in areas that were previously stretched out by the hemangioma. If left over skin changes are noticeable there are procedures including surgery and laser treatments that may be used to correct the changes when the child is older.
Hemangiomas may occur anywhere on the body; some children may have more than one. They may also develop inside the body, but this is rare. They never develop in an adult.
There are three main types:
Many hemangiomas have both superficial and deep parts.
The doctor can usually look at your child’s skin and tell if there is a hemangioma. If the diagnosis is not clear, an ultrasound scan or MRI test may be needed.
Most hemangiomas go away over time without any treatment. If the hemangioma is causing a problem, treatments are available and may include:
Topical medicine (rubbed onto the hemangioma):
Oral medicine (taken by mouth):
Injected medicine (taken as a shot directly into the hemangioma)
Surgery to remove the growth
Your doctor will talk with you about the best choice for your child.
The hemangioma may need to be treated if:
Call your child’s doctor if any of these things occur:
If your child is on oral steroids, the medicine must never be stopped suddenly. Be sure to get the prescription filled before your child takes the last dose. The doctor will give you exact instructions on how to slowly stop the medicine when it is time to do so.
The doctor needs to watch your child’s progress so it is important to keep follow-up appointments.