Cherry angioma

Medical quality assurance by Dr. Albrecht Nonnenmacher, MD at November 17, 2016
StartDiseasesCherry angioma

A cherry angioma looks like a small red mole that is translucent and resembles hardened blood. Cherry angiomas are benign and they become more frequent as a person ages. Other more serious conditions look similar to them, so they should be diagnosed by a professional.

Contents

Definition & Facts

Cherry angioma are highly common growths that often appear after age 30; most people usually do not get them until they are adults. Cherry angiomas often appear on the torso, arms and legs. Once a person reaches advanced age, angiomas might appear on their face or more frequently. These lesions are harmless although they sometimes can be alarming because they will bleed excessively if scraped or injured.

Cherry angiomas have no connection to cancer, but other types of red spots that frequently bleed and grow are indicators of skin cancer. In most cases, only one cherry angioma is present although there are instances where a number occur at the same time. Even if there is no family history of angiomas, they might appear on a person. Because cherry angiomas are harmless, they are inadequately studied and much remains unknown about them.

Symptoms & Complaints

The patient will notice a bright cherry red bump on their skin. Sometimes it is flat, and other times it is dome-shaped. They are often as small as the head of a pin, and are usually circular. The color can range from bright red to purple. If a cherry angioma is scraped or cut, it will bleed excessively because it is made up of blood vessels.

They appear on the scalp, lips, nose, chin, cheeks, forehead, abdomen and back. People who get cherry angiomas on their face may want them removed for cosmetic reasons. If the angioma is cut or scraped, it can be quite painful and tender for quite a while afterward.

Causes

Cherry angiomas are a part of aging. Usually people don't get them until they are 30 years of age or older. Some physicians believe there is a link between cherry angiomas and liver dysfunction though there is no consensus on this link. An indicator of liver dysfunction is a pimple or rash that appears on the chest below the neck which looks somewhat similar to angiomas.

Cherry angiomas are believed to be inherited. They are also more frequent in pregnant women. Some believe that exposure to mustard gas or bromides causes formation of cherry angiomas. Others believe that they are caused by an estrogen imbalance or changes in the climate. That said, doctors do not currently know the exact cause of cherry angiomas.

Diagnosis & Tests

Cherry angiomas have a very specific appearance and are fairly easy to recognize. That said, other types of skin lesions are somewhat similar and can be an indicator of much more serious conditions. If a person has a red bump that changes shape or color over a short period of time, or if it bleeds often, medical help should be sought immediately.

When a patient comes to a physician with a cherry angioma, the doctor will do a thorough physical examination in which they visually examine the patient's skin as well as evaluate the patient's medical history and that of their family. A doctor might do a biopsy to test the growth and make sure it isn't something more serious and that it is, in fact, an angioma.

Treatment & Therapy

Cherry angiomas often do not require any treatment at all because many are not harmful in any way. Cherry angiomas often shrink and disappear over time completely on their own, so in some cases doctors recommend just waiting it out. However, some people want them removed because they can be aesthetically unpleasing and if injured, they can bleed excessively.

There are a number of ways to remove a cherry angioma. Some doctors use electroablation, a process where the physician uses an electrical current to destroy the angioma, but that can be painful and leave scars. In other cases, physicians may use a method called pulsed dye laser treatment. It usually only takes one procedure to remove the angioma, though larger growths may take multiple visits.

Rarely, a doctor will use cryotherapy, where the skin is frozen with liquid nitrogen. The doctor will use anesthesia for this but it can still be a bit painful. Surgical excision is also an option, where the doctor will cut off the angioma with surgical tools.

There are many home remedies though their efficacy is untested. All of them involve putting certain substances on the angioma for a period of time. Remedies which some have recommended include apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil, iodine, and topical creams.

Prevention & Prophylaxis

Because the cause of cherry angiomas is unknown, it is very difficult to prevent them. It is known that children do not get them much and that they become more frequent as a person ages.

To the extent that cherry angiomas are linked to liver disease, one may be able to prevent them by abstaining from alcohol or drinking in moderation and maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Certain natural skin treatments might help prevent angiomas. Physicians generally agree that drinking lots of water, eating organic foods rich in antioxidants such as blueberries, kidney beans and dark chocolate, and limiting exposure to the sun are the best ways to keep clear, healthy skin.