A hemangioma that appears later is called an infantile
hemangioma. Infantile hemangiomas are much more common than congenital
Because hemangiomas grow and change, they're called tumors, but they're not a kind
of cancer. A hemangioma will not spread to other places in the body or to other people.
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of a Hemangioma?
Some hemangiomas look like a rubbery red "strawberry" patch of skin, while others
may cause a skin bulge that has a blue tint.
Most hemangiomas grow larger for several months, then shrink slowly. A hemangioma
can cause problems if it affects body functions (such as vision and breathing), bleeds
frequently, or breaks through the skin (called ulcerating).
What Causes Hemangiomas?
Doctors don't know what causes hemangiomas. Hemangiomas may run in families, but
no genetic cause has been found.
Just having a hemangioma doesn't put a baby at increased risk for health problems.
But hemangiomas can happen in some syndromes (a syndrome is a combination of signs
and symptoms that make up a particular health condition).
How Are Hemangiomas Diagnosed?
A hemangioma of the skin is usually recognized by its appearance. Depending on
the hemangioma's type (congenital or infantile) and location, more testing might be
needed to learn more about the hemangioma.
Rarely, a hemangioma can grow in an organ inside the body, such as the kidneys,
lungs, liver, or brain, where it can't be seen.
How Are Hemangiomas Treated?
Often, a hemangioma will shrink (or "involute") without treatment until little
or nothing of the blood vessel tangle remains, usually by the time a child is 10 years
old. So most hemangiomas are not treated.
Treatment is recommended, though, if a hemangioma:
blocks vision or eye movements
reduces air flow through the nose and mouth
bleeds often or in large amounts
breaks through the skin covering it
has enough blood flowing through it to put a strain on the baby's heart
How it's treated depends on the type of hemangioma and other details. Treatment
options, which may be used one at a time or in combination, include:
medicine put directly into the hemangioma, given into a vein (with an IV), or
taken by mouth (oral)
surgery to remove the entire hemangioma
blocking the main blood vessel(s) supplying blood to the hemangioma through embolization, a surgical procedure that involves
blocking the vessel(s) from the inside using a long, thin tube (a catheter)
A hemangioma on a baby's face or head can create a cosmetic (appearance) problem.
Doctors understand how much appearance can matter, and will work with parents to determine
whether it's better to treat a baby's hemangioma or to let it go away on its own.
Other kids and adults may be curious about your child's hemangioma. Telling them
that hemangiomas are birthmarks that eventually go away will take care of most questions.
After a hemangioma goes away on its own, it may leave behind some stretched skin.
Cosmetic (plastic) surgery might be needed to remove the extra skin. Laser treatment
can treat skin discoloration.