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Haemangiomas


Haemangiomas or strawberry naevi often appear on the skin as a bright red mark. Usually they appear shortly after birth within the first month of life and then increase in size quite quickly. Most haemangiomas then reach a stable phase where they stay the same size for several months to a few years. Following this most strawberry birth marks gradually regress and many disappear completely.

They are a benign overgrowth of blood vessels within the skin. The exact cause of haemangiomas is not fully known. They are a benign overgrowth of blood vessels within the skin. Sometimes more than one can be present and very rarely the haemangiomas can become very large indeed. Haemangiomas affect as many as one in ten newborn babies.

Most Strawberry marks reach their final size by 3-9 months of age. The speed and timing of regression is very variable. The following figures give a rough time scale to their disappearance:

  • 30% of them will have faded by the third birthday
  • 50% by the fifth birthday
  • 70% by the seventh birthday

Most haemangiomas do not require treatment. Occasionally however, there can be troublesome bleeding from the surface of a haemangioma which may require special dressings. If there is persistent bleeding from the surface, laser treatment can be effective in reducing this problem. Rarely propranalol, steroid therapy, sclerosing therapy or surgery are used in their treatment.

Haemangiomas commonly grow on the face. If they are close to the eye, they may interfere visual development. Haemangiomas forming on the lips or nose can cause airway or feeding problems. In these cases treatment is required and may consist ofprescribing propranalol, laser treatment, steroid therapy or surgery.

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