Hemangiomas (or strawberry marks as they are commonly known) are vascular tumors that occur as swelling or outgrowth on the skin. These marks are caused by extra-normal growth of special (endothelial) cells that line blood vessels in the skin. They occur in many shapes and sizes and may develop internally as well as externally. In about eighty percent cases, hemangiomas occur on the head and neck areas.
Hemangiomas are the most common tumors occurring in infancy usually appearing during the first weeks of life. However, they occur five times more often in female babies than in male babies. If your baby is to have the unfortunate condition, it should be visible either at the time of her birth or within first four weeks after her birth.
With that said, here is the good part of the news: all hemangiomas are self-involuting, meaning that they resolve themselves by age 10 without being treated, although when this involution is completed, a surgery is almost always needed for cosmetic reasons.
Though the root cause of hemangiomas, like other vascular marks, has not been determined, yet it is known that they are not hereditary in origin; hence neither of the parents need bear guilt if such marks happen to occur in their babies. What is important is to remember that these marks should be accurately diagnosed for possible timely intervention.
Hemangiomas follow a well-known life-cycle. They usually start to appear as bluish or reddish spots or flat patches on the skin. These spots, then, turn into what are known as ‘superficial’, ‘deep’ or ‘compound’ hemangiomas. The superficial hemangiomas are flat and appear reddish in colour; the deep hemangiomas on the other hand develop beneath the skin and appear bluish in color; whereas the compound hemangiomas occurs, as the name suggests, when both of these types happen together.
It is very rare that a baby is born with a fully grown hemangioma; rather it grows gradually. It may take up to 18 months before a hemangioma stops growing any further. But, unfortunately, the involuting (that is, the natural reverse) process is often not as fast and it usually takes a further 3 to 10 years before the child is relieved of the condition, physically at least.
Considering the potential negative consequences for the psychosocial health of their child, most parents wish not to leave (or force) their child to live with the condition for so long. Further, since hemangiomas can be life-threatening in some cases while in other cases they can cause severe functional problems such as interfering with eating, breathing, seeing, hearing, speaking, etc., immediate, aggressive intervention may be required.
This is especially true of internally grown (or visceral) hemangiomas which occur in the liver, intestines, airway and brain. These are difficult to detect and can be very dangerous if the necessary intervention is delayed.
Finally, infants that have multiple hemangiomas (or hemangiomatosis) need to be diagnosed for internal lesions. As a rule of thumb, infants with more than three hemangiomas must get an ultrasound of the entire body.
If you need professional assistance in any of the cases cited above, don’t wait or hesitate to ask for a free examination and consultation. Whatever, the type or stage of your baby’s hemangioma our team of certified practitioners will make sure that your baby receives the best treatment available.