A hemangioma is a type of birthmark. It develops shortly after birth, usually on the head or neck. It may be close to the surface of the skin or deeper below the skin.
For most, a hemangioma will grow quickly and then slowly disappear over time. It is often gone before puberty. If your child develops a birthmark that grows, talk to a doctor.
A hemangioma is a cluster of blood vessels that do not form properly. It is not known what cause hemangiomas. It is also unclear what makes them grow or disappear.
Hemangiomas are more common in Caucasian baby girls. Other factors that may increase a baby's chance of a hemangioma include:
Symptoms will depend on the location of the hemangioma:
Most hemangiomas have no further symptoms. However, some large hemangiomas may lead to:
You will be asked about your child’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Some hemangiomas are obvious with physical exam. If there is any question, your doctor may recommend testing. Tests may also be done to determine the size and effect on nearby organs.
Imaging tests can evaluate the hemangioma and surrounding structures. These may include:
Most hemangiomas will resolve on their own and do not require any treatment. The mark will significantly fade by age 5 and nearly disappear by puberty. Your doctor may only recommend monitoring during the growth period.
If the hemangioma is causing problems, one or more of the following treatments may be advised:
If ulcers have developed, more aggressive treatment may be needed. It may require a combination of treatments above.
There are no current guidelines to prevent hemangiomas because their cause is unknown.
American Academy of Dermatology
Vascular Birthmarks Foundation
Sturge-Weber Syndrome Community Canada (SWSCC)
Bruckner AL, Frieden IJ. Hemangiomas of infancy. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2003;48:477-493.
Burton BK, Schulz CJ, et al. An increased incidence of haemangiomas in infants born following chorionic villus sampling (CVS). Prenat Diagn. 1995;15:209-214.
Haggstrom AN, Frieden, IJ. Hemangiomas: Past, present, and future. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2004;51: S50-52.
Hemangioma in infants. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated December 17, 2015. Accessed December 18, 2015.
Luu M, Frieden IJ. Haemangioma: clinical course, complications and management. Br J Dermatol. 2013;169(1):20-30.
10/25/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Haggstrom AN, Garzon MC, Baselga E, et al. Risk for PHACE syndrome in infants with large facial hemangiomas. Pediatrics. 2010;126(2):e418-e426.
Last reviewed December 2015 by Marcin Chwistek, MD Last Updated: 12/20/2014