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Angiomas are non-cancerous growths made up of blood vessels or lymphatic vessels which have clustered in an abnormal way. While medical researchers do not yet understand what causes these growths, they are usually harmless. There are several different types of angioma, including hemangioma, spider angioma, and cherry angioma. Generally, angiomas do not require treatment and may fade on their own, although some people choose to have them removed for cosmetic reasons.
An angioma occurs when a collection of blood vessels or lymphatic vessels develops in an abnormal, clustered fashion. These clustered vessels normally present themselves as raised areas of varying sizes which are usually painless, and which may be located anywhere on the skin’s surface. They are often red or purple in color, although some are flesh-toned. Some are present from birth, some emerge during infancy, and others develop during middle or old age.
Medical researchers do not understand what causes most angiomas. Some believe that they may be connected to exposure to certain proteins present in the placenta prior to birth, although this theory has not been proven. Regardless of their cause, the growths are generally harmless. Development of a large number of angiomas, however, may indicate an underlying condition, usually liver malfunction.
There are several distinct types of angiomas, including hemangioma, spider angioma, and cherry angioma. A hemangioma is a raised area which is often intensely red in color, and which normally occurs on the face or neck. It commonly emerges shortly after birth, and grows in size for approximately one year, sometimes reaching a diameter of 2 inches (5 cm) or more. The hemangioma then ceases growing and in time begins to shrink, usually disappearing by the time a child reaches 10.
Unlike other types of angioma, a spider angioma tends to be flat. It consists of a red mark from which small blood vessels radiate, creating a spider-like appearance. Spider angiomas can occur at any time, but they often affect pregnant women. Like a hemangioma, a cherry angioma is usually bright red in tone. It is generally much smaller than a hemangioma, however, and tends to develop in those over 30.
As angiomas are generally benign and painless, they usually do not require medical attention. Many of these growths gradually disappear over several months or years. Some people opt to have an angioma removed for cosmetic reasons, however. The most commonly used methods for angioma removal include surgery, laser treatment, and liquid nitrogen freezing.