What to do with a Strawberry Hemangioma
My two month old daughter has a strawberry hemangioma that’s getting bigger. The pediatrician says I don’t need to do anything. Is that right?
I can’t say for certain without seeing it, but most of the time strawberry hemagiomas can be safely watched until they go away on their own.
A hemangioma is benign mass of tissue made of blood vessels. It is not cancerous, and doesn’t turn into cancer. The most common kind, called a “strawberry hemangioma,” appears shortly after birth as at first a flat, bright pink area. Over the next several months, it grows bigger and thicker, and sticks out. Between 9 and 12 months of age, they usually start to scar down, becoming more white than red. Eventually, only a flat pale or thick-feeling scar is left behind. As long as this kind of hemangioma is not on a cosmetically critical area, parents can just leave these alone until they scar down and become less noticeable.
Strawberry hemagiomas do require treatment if they are cosmetically unacceptable (say, on the nose), if they block vision out of one or both eyes, or if they bleed a lot. Rarely, hemangiomas can occur in the throat or airway, which would require intervention. Treatment is usually with lasers, and is usually undertaken with the help of a pediatric plastic surgeon.
There are many other kinds of hemangiomas. The deeper, blue-looking ones are often made of vein material. Depending on their location, they may or may not require therapy. Port-wine stains are flat, red-to-purple areas that are present at birth and often involve the face. These will need to be evaluated and treated to minimize their appearance.
Pediatricians can readily identify and give advice on most hemagiomas, including the ordinary, benign strawberries. But you’ll want to take your child to a specialist if your child has a large, disfiguring, or more unusual kind of hemangioma. A plastic surgeon or dermatologist, especially one associated with a university teaching hospital, would be your best bet.