Everything You Need To Know About Vascular Birthmarks In Babies
1. What is an angioma: The angioma is a type of birthmark which is observable in about 10% of babies. It can appear on the face or another part of the body. The angioma can result from a small malformation of the blood capillaries (plane angioma or 'port wine stain') or from an abnormal multiplication of the cells of the blood vessels. The latter case refers more precisely to hemangioma or tuberous angioma, a benign tumour also known as a 'strawberry mark'.
Planar angioma is usually not a health hazard for the child. On the other hand, a hemangioma that is too large or badly located (eg on the eyelid) can cause significant discomfort, requiring a fairly fast treatment. However, in most cases, it does not require any management: it disappears spontaneously after a few months or years, without anyone being able to explain it yet.
2. Symptoms of angioma: Angioma is characterised by a red or pinkish spot. In the case of a plane angioma, the spot is flat and visible from birth. Its contours are well defined. A 'port wine stain' often tends to darken with the years and does not disappear spontaneously. Very rarely, the plane angioma may be associated with other symptoms (eg edema, hypertrophy of a limb), possibly revealing another condition, such as Sturge-Weber syndrome, requiring medical attention.
A hemangioma is so small at birth (a tiny red dot) that it usually goes unnoticed, but the multiplication of cells makes it grow: it often takes 7 to 15 days to notice it. It usually stops growing around the age of 4 months, and then begins to slowly disappear around 12 to 18 months. It will usually disappear completely before the age of 7 years.
3. Treatment of angioma: The planar angioma can be treated with pulsed dye laser if desired for cosmetic reasons. As for the hemangioma, it rarely needs to be treated, unless it stops the baby from eating or opening their eyes. Depending on its location and size, it can also 'pump' too much blood but again, this is rare. In practice, only 10 to 15% of cases need to be treated, usually via propanol drug therapy, helping the hemangioma to recover.