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What Is Spider Angioma?

Electrocauterization may be performed to destroy a cluster of blood vessels.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 22 October 2014
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A spider angioma is a cluster of blood vessels which can be easily seen right beneath the skin, and that usually surround a red dot or lesion. Literature describes these angiomas as bearing some similarity to a spider web, or to a spider body with legs. Either explanation works as a description of a spider angioma. Typically, though this condition may be obvious, it doesn’t require treatment and will resolve on its own. Perhaps as many as half of all children will have at least one during their lifetimes, and they’re quite common in pregnant women or in women on hormonal birth control.

Though many times a spider angioma can be safely ignored, any rapidly growing lesion on the face or trunk (the most common places for these to develop) may deserve some medical attention. In the case of lesions that look like spider angioma, there are a few distinguishing factors, such as the red dot, and the presence of small visible blood vessels extending out from it. Another common expression of the illness is that placing pressure on the angioma will cause it to lose its red color, until the pressure is lifted.

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However, sometimes the red lesion or area surrounding a spider angioma might break open and bleed regularly. This is definitely a little unusual and people should see a doctor. Another potential cause for concern is if there are five or more spider angiomas present, as this many may indicate liver problems. Patients should check with their doctors if they have a large number of these to rule out any physical problems that could be creating them.

Certainly a spider angioma may be unsightly, and people might be anxious to use some method to get rid of them. It may be possible to use techniques like electrocauterization to destroy the blood vessels, or alternately there are some laser procedures that can be used to remove an angioma. Those not in a hurry to have one removed usually don’t have to wait long before they’re gone. Most resolve on their own with a year of first appearing, and sometimes they’ll disappear sooner, especially if a pregnancy resolves or a woman stops using hormonal birth control.

There does seem to be some connection between estrogen levels and spider angioma presence, but this may not be the main factor in all cases, especially in kids who are male. Liver disease certainly can cause them too, so this is always something people should observe. In most cases though, these are benign and are unlikely to cause any harm or remain permanently visible.

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bluedolphin
Post 3

People who drink frequently often have spider angiomas. I used wonder how alcohol can cause an angioma but now I understand that it's not directly alcohol but rather the effect of alcohol on the liver. Alcohol is very hard on the liver and people who drink regularly tend to have liver problems, so that makes sense. This is how spider angiomas and cirrhosis are linked.

burcinc
Post 2

@turkay1-- Yes, they can happen on any part of the body. I think the arms, legs and chest are the most prone areas, but spider angiomas on the face are not uncommon.

I had a few on my chest because of contraception pills. I didn't know that contraception pills could have a side effect like this so I was very upset when I found out. I stopped taking the pills and after a few years, the angiomas disappeared on their own.

I think I was lucky because I only had a few. I've heard that some women develop many spider angiomas from contraceptives.

candyquilt
Post 1

Can a spider angioma occur on any part of the body?

I think I have one on my face but I'm not sure.

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