Hemangiomas — A Comprehensive Guide to Medical Care, Diagnosis, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Hemangioma is a benign (non-cancerous) growth made up of blood vessels that can occur anywhere on the body, most commonly on the trunk, scalp, face, or neck. It is typically seen as a bright red or purplish bump on the skin and can occur anywhere on the body. Hemangiomas are the most common type of birthmark and can affect children of any age, though they are most common in infants.

Hemangiomas are also known as the most common tumors of infancy, with an estimated prevalence of 4-10% in children. Most hemangiomas are present at birth, although they may not be visible until weeks or months later. They can be single or multiple, and range in size from a few millimeters to several centimeters. Hemangiomas may be flat or raised and can be bright red, bluish-purple, or skin-colored.


Hemangiomas can be classified as superficial, deep, or mixed. Superficial hemangiomas are composed of clusters of small, superficial blood vessels and are the most common type. Deep hemangiomas are composed of larger, deeper vessels and tend to grow more quickly. Mixed hemangiomas contain both superficial and deep vessels.

Hemangiomas can also be classified according to their growth pattern. Rapidly involuting hemangiomas grow quickly in the first few months of life and then rapidly regress by age 3. Non-involuting hemangiomas grow slowly over time and do not regress.

Types of Hemangiomas

There are two main types of hemangiomas: capillary and cavernous. Capillary hemangiomas are the most common type and usually appear as a bright red or purple spot on the skin. They often appear soon after birth and can grow rapidly in the first few months.

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Cavernous hemangiomas are less common and tend to grow more slowly than capillary hemangiomas. They usually appear as soft, blue-purple bumps on the skin.

Causes and Risk Factors

The exact cause of hemangioma is unknown. However, some studies suggest that hormones may play a role, as hemangiomas are more common in female infants. Other risk factors include premature birth and having a family history of hemangiomas.

Hemangiomas occur in about 5% of newborns, with a higher incidence in premature babies. Tumors are more common in Caucasians than in African-Americans or Asians.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Hemangiomas are typically self-diagnosable or diagnosed through a physical exam and lab tests or imaging is rarely required. If the doctor suspects a more serious condition, they may order additional tests such as an ultrasound or MRI.

Most hemangiomas will resolve on their own over time; however, if the hemangioma is causing health problems or is in a sensitive area, treatment may be necessary. Treatment options include topical medications, intralesional steroid therapy, laser therapy, and surgery may be necessary for severe cases or for those that are causing functional impairment.

With proper treatment, most can be reduced in size or even disappear over time. Treatment may be necessary to reduce the size of the tumor, prevent complications, or improve appearance.


Hemangiomas are usually harmless, but in some cases, they can cause medical problems. The long-term prognosis for hemangiomas is generally good, although complications such as bleeding, infection, scarring, and vision or hearing loss may occur.

Large or deep hemangiomas can cause complications, such as bleeding, infection, or ulceration of the skin. They may also interfere with vision, hearing, or breathing. In rare cases, hemangiomas can cause serious complications such as organ damage or even death.

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Hemangiomas are the most common type of birthmark and are usually harmless. They can appear anywhere on the body and can vary in size and color. Most hemangiomas go away on their own over time, but treatment may be necessary if the hemangioma is causing health problems or is in a sensitive area. Complications can occur but are rare.


What is a hemangioma?

A hemangioma is a benign (non-cancerous) tumor made up of blood vessels and usually found on or just below the surface of the skin.

What causes hemangiomas?

The exact cause of hemangiomas is not known, but they are thought to be caused by an abnormal growth of blood vessels.

Are hemangiomas dangerous?

No, hemangiomas are not usually dangerous and can often go away on their own without treatment. However, if the hemangioma is large or in a sensitive area, it may require treatment.

How are hemangiomas treated?

The treatment for hemangiomas depends on the size and location of the tumor. Options can include observation, topical medications, laser therapy, and surgery.

Are hemangiomas hereditary?

No, hemangiomas are not inherited, and having a hemangioma does not increase a person’s risk of developing other types of tumors.

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