By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD
Hemangiomas are connected to the circulation and their appearance depends on whereabouts in our body they occur.
When present on the skin surface, they often resemble the surface of a strawberry and these skin lesions are sometimes referred to as strawberry hemangiomas.
If a hemangioma occurs just beneath the skin, it may appear as a bluish swelling.
These benign tumors can also grow on organs such as the voicebox, the liver and within the small and large bowel.
Some of the symptoms of hemangioma include:
- On first appearance, a hemangioma may be mistaken for a scratch or a bruise but their diagnosis is confirmed once the tumors grow and become larger.
- Hemangiomas are the most common type of tumor found in children and they occur in 10% of all Caucasian babies. They are less common among other ethnicities. Girls are three to five times more likely to develop hemangiomas than boys and babies who are premature, born with a low birthweight or one of a multiple birth such as a twin or triplet are also at a greater risk of hemangioma.
- Superficial hemangiomas eventually form a raised, red area of skin supplied with its own blood vessels, which can make the tumor feel warm to the touch.
- Hemangiomas most commonly occur on the head, face and neck, although they can occur anywhere on the body. They are particularly likely to occur on the lip, eyelid or cheek. Other less common locations include the liver, heart and brain, although these organs are usually only involved when a child has multiple hemangiomas.
- If the hemangioma is present beneath the skin as a deep hemangioma, it appears bluish in color due to the blood vessels also being deeper down in the skin. These deep hemangiomas are sometimes not obvious for the first few weeks of life and only form a visible lump after growing for a period.
- Most children only ever develop one haemangioma but occasionally a child develops multiple hemangiomas that affect various different body parts. This condition is more common among children born as part of a multiple birth.
Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc
Last Updated: Aug 6, 2014