Angiomas are often known by the alternative name “cherry angiomas”. They get this appellation from their bright red color. While these age related skin blemishes can be a source of embarrassment and occasionally discomfort, depending on their location, they are not at all serious and in most cases do not require any sort of treatment.
Medically speaking, an angioma is a small, benign tumor that grows on the surface of the skin. In some individuals they may also develop on the liver. This form is also benign and is usually asymptomatic, remaining undiscovered unless you are receiving treatment for or having some other condition diagnosed. Again, they are considered completely non-threatening and rarely require any further consideration.
Because these tiny tumors are made up of clumps of blood vessels, they tend to be bright red in color, thus leading to their designation as “cherry” angiomas. They usually develop later in life and appear on the torso, arms and shoulders and are generally quite small, in most cases no more than one-fourth of an inch in diameter.
How are they caused?
There is no known cause for angiomas, though they are commonly believed to be a side effect of the aging process as they appear most frequently in individuals over the age of 30 and tend to increase in size and number the older a person gets. A genetic connection has also been identified, as some individuals are thought to develop these tumors in the womb.
Exposure to chemicals and extreme climate shifts are also thought to play a hand in the development of angiomas, but there is no specific proof of a connection.
What are the treatment options for angiomas?
As there are no medical complications from angiomas, medical treatment is usually not necessary. If you notice a sudden change in the appearance of one you should contact your doctor, who will likely want to perform a biopsy for precautionary reasons, since change in appearance of any skin blemish is a possible sign of malignancy.
While there are no medical reasons to have angiomas treated, there may be cosmetic reasons. Some people dislike the look of these growths and in some cases they may occur in areas where they are frequently rubbed or pinched by clothing, during shaving or at other times during your daily routine. When this kind of irritation occurs, there may be some bleeding, which can be troublesome. For these reasons, some individuals choose to have them removed.
There are several acceptable methods for doing so, each of which is relatively quick and painless and can be done on an outpatient basis, usually in your doctor’s office. These include electrocauterization, where the growth is burned off; cryotherapy, where liquid nitrogen is used to freeze the growth; laser surgery, where a pinpoint laser is used to target and burn off the angioma and shaving, where the angioma is removed with a blade.
There may be some slight side effects from each form of treatment but nothing that is serious or leaves a permanent mark.
If you believe you have an angioma and want to have it removed, talk to your dermatologist about the various options. Together you can decide the right course of action.