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Should You Worry About Your Child’s Hemangiomas?

Child's Hemangiomas — New Bern, NC — East Carolina Dermatology and Skin Surgery, PLLC

If your child has a birthmark, you probably don’t have to worry about it. Birthmarks cause few problems. However, one type of birthmark called a hemangioma can have complications. Some hemangiomas could threaten your child’s health if not treated or removed. Read on to learn more about hemangiomas and when they may need treatment.

What Are Hemangiomas?

Hemangiomas are birthmarks with a high concentration of blood vessels. Usually, they exist just under the surface of the skin, but they can swell up above the surface level. They look like bright red spots. Some are evenly round and located in one area, but others are segmented and spread over a larger area. Hemangiomas also occur internally in the throat, lungs, kidneys, brain, although this is rare. Some internal types can be serious.

Your child can have a hemangioma at birth, but most hemangiomas develop in the weeks and months afterward. Once they appear, they go through a rapid growth phase that usually peaks when the child is about six to nine months old. Some hemangiomas get very large during this time. The hemangioma will then stabilize for up to 10 years before it shrinks and disappears.

What Causes Hemangiomas?

The cause of these patches of blood vessel buildup is not known. However, girls, twins, and premature babies have a higher chance of getting them. Some children diagnosed with a hemangioma have other family members that have or had the same condition. The condition has no known connection to anything the mother ate or did during pregnancy.

How Do Hemangiomas Affect Health?

Most hemangiomas are superficial and only look problematic. However, others may cause issues. Here are some complications hemangiomas may cause to a few children.


Some hemangiomas turn into sores that can become painful and could cause a scar. If located around the mouth, these ulcers may make eating difficult. Your child may have problems with everyday activities. Even urination and defecation can be difficult, depending on the location of the hemangioma. Some ulcers become infected.

Blocked Nose and Mouth

Some skin hemangiomas can get so large that they may block the nose and mouth. Large hemangiomas can interfere with your child’s ability to eat, drink, or breathe.

Vision Issues

If the hemangioma is on or near the eye, then it could impair your child’s visual development. Many children with eyelid hemangiomas develop astigmatism.

Breathing Problems

In addition to breathing problems caused by a blocked nose and mouth, some infants develop internal hemangiomas in the lungs and throat. These internal hemangiomas may block airflow in and out of the lungs. Infants with multiple hemangiomas have an increased risk of serious internal hemangiomas.

Excessive Bleeding

Hemangiomas contain an abnormally high number of blood vessels. They could cause bleeding issues if broken or ulcerated.

How Are Hemangiomas Treated?

Most hemangiomas will not need treatment. However, your doctor or dermatologist should monitor them. Large and risky hemangiomas that affect eyesight, breathing, or are at high risk of bleeding may need help. Surgery can remove larger hemangiomas that are a risk to your child’s health. Thin hemangiomas may respond to laser surgery.

The doctor and dermatologist may prescribe medications to help shrink the hemangioma. Eye drops and creams could shrink the hemangioma enough to reduce complications and the need for oral medications. If your child needs oral medications, beta-blockers are the first choice for this condition.

Some hemangiomas look worse than they actually are. Luckily, most hemangiomas don’t cause problems. However, if you have concerns about hemangiomas or any other birthmark, give East Carolina Dermatology and Skin Surgery, PLLC, a call. We can examine the hemangioma to see if it needs treatments. Contact us today.

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