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Angiomas, hemangiomas

What is it?

Hemangiomas or angiomas are proliferations of blood vessels that appear as spots or skin tumors, usually red or purple. The most common types of hemangiomas are the child angioma, the rubi angioma, pyogenic granuloma and port wine stain.

Although, in general, hemangiomas represent an aesthetic problem only, bleeding, and compression of nearby structures may represent a more serious problem. The malignant transformation of an angioma is rare.

Characteristics and symptoms

The most frequent angiomas are:

  • child angioma: may be present at birth or appear in the first year of life. They are more common on the face and scalp but can occur anywhere in the body, including internal organs. Though they tend to grow quickly, they are prone to disappear spontaneously before puberty. Due to this characteristic, the most common practice of most dermatologists is the simple monitoring of these lesions. Some medicines can stop the growth or even regress angiomas, such as systemic corticosteroids and topical imiquimod. However, it should be well considered whether the risks and side effects of these drugs outweigh their potential benefits.

  • ruby angioma: small lesions red like ruby stones that are found primarily in the trunk of individuals of Iberian descent, more common at adulthood. Tend to increase in size and number during a lifetime.

  • pyogenic granuloma: bright red tumors that bleed easily and grow quickly. Often painful, arise mainly in the corners of the nails of toes due to ingrown nails and use of tight shoes. It can be treated by chemical cauterization and topical or systemic antibiotics may be used in cases of severe infection or inflammation. Severe cases may require surgery.

  • nevus flammeus or port-wine stain: as the name says, these are stains with port wine or salmon color, most often located on the face. Although not present a problem beyond aesthetics, if the patient decides to remove it, laser is usually the best option.


The treatment of small lesions is easy and can be used electrocoagulation, excision and suture of the lesions or cryosurgery with liquid nitrogen. It is important to the doctor who is performing the procedure to be aware of the risksof bleeding and make available the necessary equipment to contain it.

Large angiomas may need flaps or grafts for correction of the surgical defect. The use of lasers can be a good option for difficult to treat angiomas.

Related articles

- Pyogenic granuloma
- Ingrown nail

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