What is hemangioma?

  • A hemangioma is a benign swelling caused by rapidly dividing cells forming new blood vessels. Different words for ‘hemangioma’ are ‘strawberry mark’, ‘strawberry nevus’ or, in general, ‘vascular growth’.
  • Hemangiomas are most often a disorder of the face. In general, girls more frequently suffer from hemangiomas than boys. These anomalies nearly always are to be found on the skin, but infrequently find their way to other places in the body, such as the liver, lungs or intestines. This is seen more often in children carrying multiple hemangiomas on the skin. From a count of five skin-hemangiomas upwards, the use of echography of the abdominal area is indicated to establish whether hemangiomas occur there.
  • Approximately 4 – 10 percent of all babies have hemangiomas (one or more). The colour of a hemangioma is determined by its depth below the skin. Bright red hemangiomas have fast growing cel tissue just below the surface of the skin. These are commonly called ‘strawberry marks’. The more blueish ones are located deeper below the skin.
  • Hemangiomas can not develop into cancerous tumors. There are, however, tumors that resemble hemangiomas. For that reason it is sometimes necessary to collect a sample of tissue (skin biopsy) for microscopic research in order to determine whether the disorder is benign or not. No evidence has been found to support that hemangiomas are a hereditary anomaly. Hemangiomas dò, however, occur more often in fair-skinned and fair-haired (blond) families .

Are all hemangiomas already present at birth?

Roughly 30 percent of hemangiomas is detected directly at birth, usually in the form of a pink, blueish or white spot with increased capillary activity. Most hemangiomas develop during the first few weeks after birth. As a rule, the deeper hypodermic (below-skin) hemangiomas are only discovered later (when the baby is about 6-8 weeks of age). Hemangiomas grow fast until the child is 6-9 months old. After that time, they again begin to disappear slowly. Between the ages of 2-4 the body takes care of most of the removal of the hemangiomas. Residual deformities (in up to 70 % of cases) often remain visible. These lasting deformities are more common after the occurrence of larger, voluminous hemangiomas, or when hemangiomas had had embedded wounds.

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