Hemangiomas are clusters of extra blood vessels in the skin. They are one of the most common skin problems in the first year of life. Although only 1 to 2.6% of newborn infants have them at birth, they are found in up to 10% of children by 1 year of age. They appear most often during the first two weeks to two months of life.
Not all hemangiomas look alike. It depends on the depth of the increased numbers of blood vessels. Those that are not deep (superficial) tend to be bright red and raised with an uneven surface. Deeper hemangiomas tend to be smooth on the surface, but blue in color. Many times, they will appear both red and blue. Often, the types closer to the surface will begin by looking flat or pink, but quickly change into the raised, bright red lesions.
Hemangiomas tend to grow in size from 1 month until about 8 months of age, then begin to improve and start resolving between 1 and 3 years of age. About 50% of them will resolve by 5 years of age, and 90% or more will be fully resolved by age 9. In about 50%, skin changes may be seen when the hemangioma has resolved. These include whiter skin, puckering, scarring, and visible blood vessels that persist.
Since the hemangiomas often go away by themselves and because of the possible side effects of treatment used, we rarely use aggressive treatment. But it may be needed if there are severe ulcers or disfigurement. It will also be needed if there are or problems with vital functions, like vision, hearing, breathing, and being able to eat. There are some other rare cases when treatment made be needed right away. Choosing which treatment to use depends on the location, age of the child, and size and look of the hemangioma.
UW Dermatology Department
1 S. Park St 7th Floor
Madison, WI 53715
Clinic: 608 287-2450
American Family Children’s Hospital
Pediatric Dermatology Specialty Clinic
1675 Highland Ave.
Madison, WI 53792
Clinic: 608 263-6420
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Last Updated: 02/13/2013
Copyright © 02/13/2013 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6464
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