Haemangiomas treatment
Discovering a haemangioma on your newborn’s skin can indeed be a surprising and puzzling moment for parents. However, it’s essential to remember that these “strawberry marks” are a unique part of your child’s journey, and they come with their own story to tell. Haemangiomas may appear mysterious at first, but as we’ve explored their origins, characteristics, and available treatments, we can demystify and empower you as parents.

What are Haemangiomas?

Haemangiomas are like little lumps or spots that can show up on babies’ skin. They often start as red marks and can become raised and reddish. Interestingly, they grow a lot at first but usually go away on their own without needing any special treatment.
Sometimes, they leave a mark behind or need help from doctors if they are in a tricky spot or don’t shrink as expected. Even though haemangiomas can look strange, they are usually not a big problem, but it’s a good idea to check with a doctor to be sure everything is okay.

How Common Are Haemangiomas?

Haemangiomas are relatively common in infants. They’re considered one of the most frequent types of tumours that occur during infancy. Approximately 5-10% of infants develop haemangiomas, which are more common in girls than boys. These growths often appear within the first few weeks of life, and most of them are not a cause for significant concern, as they tend to resolve on their own over time.
However, the prevalence can vary among different populations and regions. While haemangiomas are expected, a healthcare professional must check any unusual skin marks or growths to ensure proper evaluation and management if needed.

What Are the Different Types of Haemangiomas?

Haemangiomas can take on various forms and appearances, and they are typically categorised into two main types:
1. Superficial Haemangiomas – These are the most common type and appear on or just beneath the skin’s surface. They often start as flat, red patches and can become raised, forming a bright red nodule. Superficial haemangiomas can vary in size and shape and typically grow rapidly during the first few months of life.
2. Deep Haemangiomas – These develop deeper within the skin or even in underlying tissues, such as muscles or organs.

They tend to have a bluish or purplish hue and may be less visible on the surface. Deep haemangiomas can be more challenging to diagnose and manage, as they may not follow the same growth patterns as superficial ones.

In addition to these main types, haemangiomas can also be further classified based on their specific characteristics or location, such as:
Mixed Haemangiomas– Some haemangiomas have both superficial and deep components, making them mixed in nature.

Segmental Haemangiomas– These haemangiomas are localised to a specific body area and often follow the lines of embryonic development. They may be associated with underlying structural issues or medical conditions.

Periorbital Haemangiomas – These occur around the eye area and can sometimes be of concern due to their proximity to important structures like the eye itself.
The classification of haemangiomas can help healthcare professionals determine the best approach for monitoring and managing them.

What Causes Haemangiomas?

The exact cause of haemangiomas is not fully understood, but they are believed to result from an abnormal growth of blood vessels in the skin or deeper tissues. Several factors may contribute to the development of haemangiomas:
1. Genetics – Evidence suggests that genetics may play a role in developing haemangiomas. They tend to run in families, and children with a history of haemangiomas may be at a higher risk of developing them.
2. Hormonal Factors – Hormonal changes during pregnancy and early infancy may influence the growth of haemangiomas. For example, some haemangiomas may snowball during the first few months of life when hormones from the placenta are still circulating in the infant’s bloodstream.
3. Immune System – The immune system may also play a role in forming haemangiomas. Some researchers believe haemangiomas result from an abnormal immune system response to specific triggers.
4. Other Factors – While not directly causative, other factors such as premature birth and low birth weight have been associated with a higher risk of haemangiomas.
Haemangiomas are not caused by injury, infection, or any actions taken by the parents during pregnancy or after childbirth. They are generally considered sporadic occurrences, and most children with haemangiomas do not have any underlying medical conditions.
Although the precise cause is still being studied, ongoing research has improved our understanding of haemangiomas, and specialists can often diagnose and manage them effectively to ensure the best possible outcome for the child.

How Are Haemangiomas Diagnosed?

Haemangiomas are typically diagnosed based on their appearance and clinical examination by a healthcare specialist. The process of diagnosing a haemangioma often involves the following steps:
1. Visual Examination – Healthcare specialists, such as paediatricians or dermatologists, will visually inspect the skin or affected area to assess the characteristics of the haemangioma. They will look at its size, colour, texture, and location.
2. Medical History – The healthcare specialist will inquire about the child’s medical history and may ask questions about when the haemangioma first appeared, how it has changed over time, and if there are any associated symptoms or concerns.
3. Physical Examination– The healthcare specialist may gently touch the haemangioma to assess its texture and any temperature or blood flow changes in the area.
4. Imaging Studies – In some cases, particularly when deep haemangiomas are suspected or when the haemangioma affects internal organs, imaging studies such as ultrasound, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), or CT (computed tomography) scans may be used to obtain a clearer view of the haemangioma’s location and extent.
5. Biopsy (Rarely) – A biopsy involving taking a small tissue sample from the haemangioma is rarely needed and is typically reserved for cases where the diagnosis is uncertain or concerns about other underlying conditions.
The combination of visual inspection, medical history, and, if necessary, imaging studies helps healthcare specialists accurately diagnose haemangiomas. Once diagnosed, the healthcare specialist will discuss appropriate monitoring and treatment options, if needed, based on factors such as the haemangioma’s size, location, and potential impact on the child’s health and well-being.

Do Haemangiomas Pose Any Health Risks?

In most cases, haemangiomas do not pose significant health risks and tend to resolve on their own without causing long-term problems. However, there are certain situations in which haemangiomas can potentially pose health risks or complications:
1. Location – The location of the haemangioma can be a critical factor. Haemangiomas in or around the eyes, nose, mouth, or other sensitive areas can lead to functional or cosmetic issues, such as vision, breathing, or feeding challenges.
2. Ulceration– In some cases, haemangiomas can ulcerate, meaning the skin over the haemangioma breaks down and forms an open sore. This can be painful and may lead to infection.
3. Disfigurement – Extensive haemangiomas can cause disfigurement or psychological distress, especially if they are noticeable and affect a child’s appearance.
4. Functional Impairment – In rare cases, haemangiomas affecting internal organs or deep tissues may interfere with the function of those organs, potentially causing complications.
5. Psychosocial Impact – Haemangiomas, particularly when they are prominent or in visible areas, can lead to emotional and psychosocial challenges for the child and their family.
While many haemangiomas do not require treatment and naturally regress over time, healthcare specialists may recommend intervention in cases with potential health risks or complications.
Parents and caregivers must work closely with healthcare professionals to monitor and manage haemangiomas appropriately, considering the specific characteristics and potential risks associated with the individual case.

Early intervention and a multidisciplinary approach can help minimise health concerns and optimise the child’s well-being if necessary.

Are All Haemangiomas Treated?

No, not all haemangiomas require treatment. Most haemangiomas are left untreated because they tend to resolve on their own without causing significant issues. Healthcare specialists often follow a “watch and wait” approach, monitoring the haemangioma’s progression and assessing whether it is causing any health problems or cosmetic concerns.
Treatment for haemangiomas is typically considered in the following situations:
1. Functional Impairment – When a haemangioma is located in a way that interferes with the function of an organ (e.g., near the eye, nose, mouth, or throat), treatment may be necessary to alleviate functional issues.
2. Ulceration – Medical treatment or wound care may be required if a haemangioma ulcerates, causing an open sore that is painful or at risk of infection.
3. Cosmetic Concerns– Large or disfiguring haemangiomas that affect a child’s appearance can be a source of emotional distress. In such cases, treatment options may be explored to address cosmetic concerns.
4. Psychosocial Impact – Healthcare specialists may consider treatment options to improve the child’s quality of life if a haemangioma significantly impacts a child or their family.
5. Internal Organ Involvement – Haemangiomas that affect internal organs or deep tissues may necessitate treatment, mainly if they cause functional impairment or complications.
The specific treatment approach can vary and may include medications (e.g., beta-blockers or corticosteroids), laser therapy, surgical removal, or a combination of these methods. The decision to treat a haemangioma is made on a case-by-case basis, considering factors such as the haemangioma’s size, location, potential complications, and the child’s overall health.

What Are the Available Treatment Options?

Several treatment options are available for haemangiomas, depending on factors such as the haemangioma’s size, location, and potential complications. Here are some of the common treatment options:
1. Observation – In many cases, especially for small and uncomplicated haemangiomas, healthcare specialists adopt a watchful waiting approach. They monitor the haemangioma’s progress and may intervene if it poses health risks or cosmetic concerns.
2. Medications

Oral Beta-Blockers– Medications like propranolol or timolol are often prescribed for haemangiomas. These drugs can help slow down the growth of the haemangioma and may be effective in preventing complications.

Corticosteroids– In some cases, corticosteroid medications can be injected directly into the haemangioma or given orally to reduce inflammation and promote regression.
3. Laser Therapy– Laser treatment, such as pulsed dye laser therapy, can effectively treat superficial haemangiomas by targeting the blood vessels within the lesion. It can help fade the colour and reduce the size of the haemangioma.
4. Surgery – Surgical removal may be considered for certain haemangiomas, mainly if they are large, ulcerated, or located in a way that interferes with organ function. Surgery may leave a scar, so it is usually reserved for cases where other treatments are unsuitable.
5. Topical Medications – In some instances, topical medications like timolol gel may be prescribed for small haemangiomas.
6. Embolization – This procedure is used for deep or complex haemangiomas that involve blood vessels within the body. It involves blocking the blood vessels supplying the haemangioma with tiny particles or substances to reduce blood flow to the lesion.
7. Cryotherapy– Cryotherapy involves freezing the haemangioma with liquid nitrogen. It may be used for small haemangiomas near the skin’s surface.
Treatment choice depends on various factors, including the haemangioma’s type, size, location, and potential complications. Healthcare specialists will assess each case individually and recommend the most appropriate treatment to address the child’s needsthe journey of navigating haemangiomas empowers you as parents to make informed decisions in your child’s best interest. You are not alone in this journey; healthcare professionals are here to provide guidance, support, and expert care.

Together, we can ensure that your child’s unique story unfolds with resilience and strength, embracing the beauty of their individuality. Haemangiomas may be a part of their early life, but they are just one chapter in the beautiful story of your child’s growth and development.
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The information written and published on this website is not intended to substitute the recommendations of a trained professional and does not replace a professional consultation.
It is advisable to undergo a formal consultation to help establish a relationship between the doctor and yourself, accurately determine your concerns/problems, and get the appropriate treatments for them.
It is also imperative to note that the contents of the website with respect to treatments, results and pricing can vary from individual to individual, and can only be accurately determined by the doctor upon diagnosis.
Do note that all medical treatments will only be administered upon proper consultation, with the requirement that patients be above 21 years of age to provide legal consent.
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