A hemangioma, also known as a strawberry mark, is a type of birthmark that is almost always benign and disappears by the age of 10. Hemangiomas rarely require any medical treatment; however, in some cases, medical intervention may be warranted if the hemangioma presents a cosmetic challenge (large and visible), or if it starts to change shape or color or starts to bleed.

What are the symptoms?

Hemangiomas present themselves as raised, red skin marks that may have a rubbery feel. They are prominent on the head and neck and vary in the size, shape and color values of their appearance.

Who gets it?

Hemangiomas can affect anyone, male or female, of any ethnicity. Though the exact cause of hemangiomas is not known, scientists suspect that infantile hemangiomas are the result of flaws in the vascular development of the fetus. To date, there is no link between hemangiomas and injuries, food intake or medication; however they are more common in:

Female babies
Premature babies
Caucasian infants

Treatment Options

There are several treatment options available depending on the type and location of the birthmark. These include:

Active observation – All hemangiomas should be monitored closely as some can develop complications including skin breakdown and bleeding. In these cases, birthmarks need to be addressed quickly to minimize pain and permanent scarring.

Beta-blockers – Prevents additional growth of the hemangioma and shrinks the existing hemangioma.

Timolol – A beta-blocker that is applied topically to the surface of hemangiomas.

Corticosteroids – Oral corticosteroids are only used during the growth phase and usually do not shrink the existing hemangioma but rather slow further growth.

Pulsed dye laser – The pulsed dye laser treatment is safe and effective in treating infants and young children.

Surgery – Surgical excision is usually reserved for cases in which fibrous, fatty tissue or scarring remains after the hemangioma has evolved or for hemangiomas that are shrinking very slowly and have not resolved by the time the child is about to enter school.

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