A hemangioma is a type of birthmark. It develops shortly after birth, usually on the head or neck.
A hemangioma is a cluster of blood vessels that do not form properly. It is not known what causes this to happen.
Things that raise a baby's risk of a hemangioma are:
- Premature birth
- PHACE syndrome
A hemangioma that is close to the skin surface:
- Looks like a red or purple bump on the skin
- May continue to grow and spread
A hemangioma that is deeper under the skin—looks like a bluish swelling
Some large hemangiomas may lead to:
- Ulceration—deep sores in the skin
- Scarring or deformity
- Problems with nearby structures—such as the eyes or airway
- Problems with blood vessels of the eye or brain
- Heart, kidney, gastrointestinal, brain, or spinal problems
The doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. Diagnosis may be based on the physical exam. The doctor may advise testing to rule out other problems.
Imaging tests can look at the hemangioma and nearby structures. These may include:
Most hemangiomas will go away on their own. The mark usually fades by age 5. It is often gone by puberty.
If the hemangioma is causing problems, the doctor may advise treatment. Options may be:
- Dressings—to help prevent infection and control oozing
- Medicines such as:
- Acetaminophen to ease pain
- Beta-blockers, steroids, or vincristine (rarely)—to help shrink the hemangioma
- Topical ointments—to help with wound healing and pain relief
- Antibiotics— to speed healing or treat infection
- Surgery—if hemangiomas cause pain, or problems with sight or breathing
- Lasers—to reduce blood vessels on the surface
There are no current guidelines to prevent hemangiomas.
Castrén E, Salminen P, et al. Risk factors and morbidity of infantile haemangioma: preterm birth promotes ulceration. Acta Paediatr. 2016 ;105(8):940-945.
Hemangioma in infants. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/hemangioma-in-infants . Accessed February 26, 2021.
Hemangioma. The Vascular Birthmarks Foundation website. Available at: https://birthmark.org/birthmark/hemangioma. Accessed February 26, 2021.
Last reviewed January 2021 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Marcin Chwistek, MD
Last Updated: 2/26/2021