Medically reviewed by The Dermatologists and written by Dr. Alexander Börve
- Often self-diagnosable
- Symptoms: Small circular lesion, bleeding or web-like vessels with a central red dot
- Color: Typically red
- Location: Anywhere on the skin
- Treatment: Electrocauterization, laser surgery, shave excision, cryotherapy
An angioma is a benign growth of blood vessels in the skin. Two common forms are spider angiomas and cherry angiomas.
Cherry angiomas are also called senile angiomas or Campbell de Morgan spots, because they are due to aging and thus more common in individuals over age 30. Spider angiomas are common in children and have been linked to pregnancy and liver conditions.
Symptoms of Angioma
They can appear anywhere on the body. While the lesion itself is not harmful, it may be a symptom of another condition, such as liver disease.
Cherry angiomas are bright red, circular, and small. They may be smooth or raised. The most common areas affected are the torso, arms, and shoulders. They are small (pinhead size to one quarter inch in diameter). If you scratch, rub or cut open the angioma, it may bleed.
Spider angiomas (nevus araneus) are small lesions with a central red dot. There are reddish vessel extensions that reach out from the center. The web-like vessels can be red, blue or purple in color. These more likely to appear on the face, neck and chest. They often disappear when you apply pressure to them, but returns when the pressure is released.
What can I do?
They do not need to be treated, but they may indicate liver damage. Therefore you can prevent them by controlling your alcohol consumption or treating liver disease if you have any.
You can also prevent spider angioma by:
- Avoiding hormone therapy
- Wearing sunscreen on those areas most commonly affected, including the face, neck, and legs
Should I seek medical care?
Although angiomas are not harmful themselves, they can be an indicator of other conditions. If they change in size, shape or color, you should seek advice from your healthcare provider.
Treatment for Angioma
Angiomas are not harmful, but they can occasionally bleed when clothes rub against the affected area. The treatment of angiomas is usually for cosmetic purposes, as the angiomas will not go away on their own. Removal methods include electrocauterization, laser surgery, cryosurgery and shave excision, all of which rarely cause scarring.
Electrocauterization is a surgery that burns the angioma with a tiny probe that delivers electric current.
Cryosurgery is a quick and relatively easy procedure. It freezes the angioma by spraying liquid nitrogen for about 10 seconds on the affected area. The wound does not require much care, so the chance of infection is lower than other surgeries.
During the surgery, a pulsed dye laser (PDL) gives off heat to destroy the angioma. The laser and the heat it emits may cause some pain or discomfort, but this should go away as soon as the laser is removed. It can also cause a slight bruising.
The doctor slices away at the angioma in thin layers. Shave excision is an alternative to invasive surgery that would involve cutting out the lesion or growth and using stitches or sutures to close the wound.
Amanda Delgado. Heathline. Cherry Angioma. Available at: http://www.healthline.com/health/cherry-angioma#Overview1
American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. Available at: http://www.aocd.org/page/Angiomas
Healthline. Spider Nevus (Spider Angiomas). Available at: http://www.healthline.com/health/spider-angioma#Overview1
Sarah Sweeney Pinney, MD. Medscape. Nevus Araneus (Spider Nevus). Available at: http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1084388-overview
U.S. National Library of Medicine. Cherry Angioma. Available at: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001441.htm
U.S. National Library of Medicine. Spider Angioma. Available at: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001095.htm
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