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Cherry hemangiomas are bumps that develop on the skin, often later in life, but are not cancerous. The bumps are typically cherry red in color, hence their name, and are quite small in size. They are the result of a number of small veins growing too much underneath the skin. Treatment for these benign bumps is not usually necessary but may be indicated in certain circumstances, particularly for cosmetic purposes.
While any person of any age or ethnicity can get cherry hemangiomas, they are significantly more likely in the elderly population. For this reason, the bumps may also be referred to as senile angiomas. Prevalence of hemangiomas with increasing age may be due to the fact that skin becomes more fragile as it ages and that blood vessels are more susceptible to damage. Spots may be more noticeable on people with light skin.
Cherry bumps can be found in almost any location on the body, but may be more prominent on the chest and back. Although most commonly red in color, they may be purple or even brown in some cases. Some spots, or lesions, are prominent and rounded, while others are flatter. Though the size can vary greatly it is rare for cherry hemangiomas to grow larger than the size of a pencil eraser, and some are so small they are barely noticeable.
It is not usually necessary to seek medical treatment for cherry hemangiomas. Treatment usually occurs because a bump has started to bleed or because a person would like the hemangiomas removed for cosmetic reasons. If a spot is bumped or hit, it may bleed and could be removed. In other cases bumps on the face, arms or legs may be unsightly and could be removed if they are bothering a patient. If there is any concern as to whether a skin lesion may be cancerous, surgery may be indicated to remove a skin sample for further testing.
Removal can be achieved via three methods: surgery, freezing or laser treatment. During surgery, the cherry hemangiomas are cut away from the skin, typically under local anesthetic. Freezing the spots, also known as cryotherapy, involves using extreme cold to irritate and break down the lesion. In laser therapy, a pulsed laser is used to encourage the red blood cells of the hemangioma to absorb laser energy, which subsequently leads to the breakdown of the lesion.