A cherry angioma is a mole-like skin growth made up of small blood vessels, or capillaries. It is the most common type of angioma.
Angiomas are benign tumors that result from an overgrowth of capillaries.
It is rare for children to develop these noncancerous lesions. Cherry angiomas most commonly appear in adults older than 30 years.
Cherry angiomas are also known as senile angiomas or Campbell de Morgan spots.
These benign tumors are related to aging and tend to increase in number as a person becomes older. They occur in up to 50 percent of adults, according to one study published in American Family Physician.
The appearance of a cherry angioma should not usually cause concern, as they are almost always harmless.
However, if you notice a sudden outbreak of several lesions, visit a doctor, as they could be another type of angioma. Although rare, these spider angiomas could signal a developing problem, such as liver damage.
Doctors also advise seeking medical attention if the angioma begins to bleed, feel uncomfortable, or change in appearance. Those who wish to have a doctor remove the lesions for cosmetic purposes should schedule an appointment and review their options.
Cherry angiomas get their name from their appearance. Their bright red color occurs due to the dilated capillaries.
However, cherry angiomas can be a range of colors and may also appear blue or purple. If a person applies pressure to them, they do not usually turn white, or blanch.
These angiomas can also vary in size but commonly grow to be a few millimeters (mm) in diameter. As they get bigger, the angiomas usually form round, domed shapes with smooth, flat tops.
The growths can appear anywhere on the body but grow most often on the chest, stomach, and back. Multiple cherry angiomas often appear in groups.
Similar-looking skin growths
It is easy to confuse cherry angiomas with spider angiomas, which also have a signature red mole. The difference between the two is the distinctive, reddish extensions that spread out from the red spot of the spider angioma.
The extensions look similar to the threads in a spider's web. Spider angiomas also commonly blanch, or lose their color, when compressed
The causes of cherry angiomas are largely unknown, though experts believe they tend to be genetic.
Age contributes heavily, and cherry angiomas increase in number and size after 40 years of age.
Cherry angiomas and bromine exposure
Some research suggests exposure to bromides may be a cause of cherry angiomas.
Bromine is a chemical element in many everyday items, including baking ingredients, prescription drugs, and plastic.
At present, there is little firm evidence to support this theory. More research needs to be carried out in this area.
One study, for example, followed two laboratory assistants who developed cherry angiomas after exposure to bromine compounds. However, this is a very limited sample and the study, which was not a controlled study, took place in 2001.
If someone is often in prolonged, direct contact with bromides, they should speak with a doctor about possible harmful effects. However, researchers have not confirmed the link with cherry angioma
Most often, treatment for cherry angiomas is strictly cosmetic, as they pose no serious threat. There are four common options for treating angiomas.
This method involves cutting or shaving the lesion from the skin. The doctor will usually apply a local anesthetic first to minimize pain.
There may be some pain and discomfort after the procedure, however. Excision can also result in some scarring.
Electrodessication is a method also known as electrocautery that involves burning off skin growths. Dermatologists commonly use this for benign tumors, serious skin cancers, and pre-cancers.
First, the doctor will likely inject a local anesthetic. Then, they will touch the abnormal tissue with an electric needle to destroy the blood vessels and scrape off the angioma.
The doctor then dresses the wound, and it remains that way until the wound heals.
As with excision, this method can cause some discomfort after the procedure. Electrodesiccation usually leaves a small, white scar.
This is another common method used to treat skin growths that works by freezing off the tissue. The doctor will spray or swab liquid nitrogen on the area to freeze it.
This causes the angioma to blister or peel before falling off. In some cases, the angioma may scab before removal. This treatment might be less effective than others.
A laser passes through the skin, and the blood vessels in the angioma absorb the beam. After the treatment, the angioma should disappear, or turn gray or another darker color.
It will then fade over the next 2-4 weeks.
On average, a person needs two treatments to experience the best results. However, results vary by skin tone. A single treatment may be enough to treat smaller angiomas.
People should see improvement after each treatment for cherry angioma.
Avoid sun exposure for about 4 weeks before and 2 weeks after laser treatment for the best results and minimal side effects.
Removing cherry angiomas at home
Doctors do not recommend that people attempt to remove a cherry angioma at home for a number of reasons.
Firstly, a doctor needs to confirm that the skin growth is a cherry angioma and not a lesion that needs a more careful look.
Secondly, attempting to shave, cut, burn, or freeze a cherry angioma can be very painful and lead to infection or more significant scarring if done by an amateur. Doctors receive professional training to remove skin growths, and they do so in sterile environments using sterile tools.
Anyone who wishes to undergo a cherry angioma removal for cosmetic reasons should consult their doctor to discuss the options.
There are a number of home remedies that claim to use apple cider vinegar, iodine, or tea tree oil to shrink or remove cherry angiomas. However, there is no scientific evidence to confirm that any of these natural solutions are effective.
Talk to a doctor to check that any methods are safe before taking or applying any new medication.
As angiomas are not dangerous, the outlook is generally good with or without removal.
In general, the various methods for angioma removal are similar in levels of discomfort and effectiveness. It is best for patients to discuss with a doctor which option is best for them.
Remember that although it is possible to remove angiomas, they can sometimes return after treatment. People should monitor healing and improvement after any tumor removal.
Any worsening or abnormal changes should be reported to a doctor.
Can cherry angioma turn into a more serious condition?
Cherry angiomas are simply an overgrowth of blood vessels. Although they can sometimes look like moles, they do not have the potential to transform into skin cancer or any other medical condition.
Since it can occasionally be difficult to distinguish a cherry angioma from a mole or other type of skin growth, have a doctor check any atypical-looking lesion that resembles a cherry angiomaKaren Gill, MD Answers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.