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Do Hemangiomas Go Away?

Reviewed on 12/2/2020
Hemangiomas are one of the most common tumors that develop in infants.
Hemangiomas are one of the most common tumors that develop in infants.

Hemangiomas are one of the most common tumors that develop in infants. They are most often present from birth or appear within the first few weeks after birth. They grow only for a certain duration and usually go away on their own.

Hemangiomas are the noncancerous overgrowth of blood vessels that look like some colored patches or bumps on the skin. Though they can appear anywhere over the body, they are most commonly found over the face and the scalp followed by the neck.

The hemangiomas can also be present in

Most of the infantile hemangioma shrinks by the age of 4 years. However, scarring left by hemangioma persists in almost half of the children affected by it.

What causes the hemangiomas to develop is unknown. However, premature babies or babies with low birth weight have more chances to develop it.

What are the signs and symptoms of hemangiomas?

Hemangiomas of the skin initially appear as small red bumps. Gradually, as the blood vessels multiply further, the hemangiomas look like big, burgundy-colored bumps. Their resemblance to the deep red color of strawberry has given them the name of strawberry hemangiomas.

Hemangiomas generally do not produce any symptoms unless they are multiple or located in a sensitive area, such as near the eye.

Hemangiomas that grow in the internal organs, such as the liver and other organs of the digestive system, can cause problems like:

How are hemangiomas diagnosed?

Most hemangiomas do not need any special tests for their diagnosis. Doctors diagnose them by just looking at them and knowing their history.

To know the details of the skin hemangioma, the doctor may order an ultrasound. Suspicion of head and neck hemangiomas may need magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to confirm the diagnosis.

What is the treatment for hemangioma?

Doctors generally recommend observing the hemangiomas as most of them subside on their own without any treatment. This requires a few follow-ups with the doctor. Only if the hemangiomas are multiple or cause vision problems, such as hemangiomas near the eye, treatment will be required.

  • Beta-blocker drugs: Small, superficial hemangiomas can be treated with the local application of timolol gel or timolol drops. Another beta-blocker, propranolol (available as a liquid) can also be given by mouth to shrink the hemangioma if the local gel does not work.
  • Steroids: This is the second line of therapy for patients who do not respond to beta-blocker drugs. Steroids can be injected into the hemangioma.
  • Laser therapy: Laser therapy is another option to remove the hemangioma or treat the scars.
  • Surgery: Hemangiomas in the internal organs of the body require surgery if they grow large or become painful.

What are the complications of hemangioma?

Complications of hemangioma are rare. A possible complication is ulcer formation. This ulcer can bleed or cause infection.

Hemangiomas located in the internal organs, such as the lungs, can cause difficulty in breathing. Hemangiomas in the brain may cause headache and neurological disturbances and hemangiomas in the eye can cause vision disturbances.

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References
Antaya RJ. Infantile Hemangioma. Medscape. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1083849-overview

Mayoclinic. Hemangioma. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hemangioma/symptoms-causes/syc-20352334

John Hopkins Medicine. Infantile Hemangioma. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/infantile-hemangioma

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