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Hemangioma

Definition


Disease: Hemangioma Hemangioma
Category: Dermatological diseases
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Disease Definition:

Also known as a strawberry hemangioma, a hemangioma is a birthmark that appears as a bright red patch or a nodule of extra blood vessels in the skin. Birthmarks come in all shapes and sizes. Usually, a hemangioma grows during the first year of life and then recedes over time. It isn't associated with other medical conditions, and is usually benign.

A child who had a hemangioma in infancy, by the age of 10 will have a little visible trace of the growth. In most cases, a hemangioma doesn't require treatment.

Work Group:


Prepared by: Scientific Section

Symptoms, Causes

Symptoms:

A hemangioma could either be present at birth or appear during the first several weeks of life. Also called infantile hemangioma, it begins as a flat red mark anywhere on the body, usually on the back of the neck, scalp or face.

The red mark becomes a spongy mass that protrudes from the skin during the first year of life, and usually grows rapidly up to 5 to 7.5 centimeters (2 to 3 inches) in diameter. After that, it stops growing and enters a rest phase and eventually starts disappearing slowly.

By the age of 5, about half of all hemangiomas are resolved, and by the age of 10, almost all hemangiomas are resolved. However a faint but permanent discoloration of the skin or residual extra skin may remain, despite the fact that the color of the birthmark will fade.

During routine checkups, a child's hemangioma will be monitored. In case the hemangioma bleeds, becomes firm, grows rapidly, appears infected or forms a sore or bruise, parents should contact their child's doctor between visits.

Causes:

An abnormally dense group of extra blood vessels make up a hemangioma. Although a link has been suggested between hemangiomas and certain proteins that are produced by the placenta during pregnancy, however, what exactly causes the blood vessels to group together is still not known.

Complications

Complications:

A hemangioma could break down and develop a sore in some cases leading to pain, infection, scarring or bleeding. A hemangioma could interfere with the child's hearing, vision, breathing or elimination, depending on where it is located, though this is rare.

Treatments:

Treatment isn't needed for most hemangiomas. Although some parents may feel that treatment for hemangiomas is necessary because the marks could be disfiguring and cause social or psychological problems, however, treatment of hemangiomas is controversial. That is why doctors will hesitate treating a hemangioma that isn't causing physical problems because treatments have potential side effects and hemangiomas usually fade gradually. However, if the growth of the hemangioma ends up interfering with the child's vision or causes other problems, one of these treatment options may be considered:

Corticosteroid medications:
When given during the growth phase, these medications are most effective. Corticosteroids could be injected, taken orally or applied to the skin. Long-term or repeated treatment may be needed in some cases. However, clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye (cataract), high blood sugar, poor growth and high blood pressure are some of the potentially serious risks of this method.

Laser surgery:
The growth of a hemangioma could be stopped by lasers. In some cases, to treat sores on a hemangioma that won't heal or to remove a hemangioma, lasers could be used. However, infection, scarring, pain, changes in the skin color and bleeding are some of the potentially serious risks of this method.

Research is still ongoing to find more effective treatments with fewer side effects. Beta blockers, topical immune suppressants and interferon alfa are some of the newer, though still experimental treatments.

People should remember that most infantile hemangiomas disappear on their own during childhood. However, in case parents are considering treatment for their child's hemangioma, they should carefully discuss it with the child's doctor

Prognosis:

Not available

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