Infantile hemangiomas are the most common skin growths of infancy. They are made up of small blood vessels (capillaries) and the cells that line them. Hemangioma are usually present at birth or develop within the first two months of life. They come in many shapes and sizes and can occur on many locations on the body.
The diagnosis of a hemangioma can usually be made by a doctor’s examination. Sometimes an ultrasound or MRI of the affected skin may be needed to further evaluate the lesion. Measurements and photographs of the lesion may be made at each office visit to help monitor the growth or improvement of the hemangioma.
Hemangiomas usually grow quickly in the young infant. The growth is usually most rapid in the first 3 to 6 months of life. Hemangiomas typically stop growing by 6 to 12 months of age. Most hemangiomas will gradually go away without treatment over time. While some hemangiomas are completely gone by 2-3 years of age, others may take 10-12 years to disappear. Even after the hemangioma has “gone away”, there may be some permanent changes in the affected areas of skin such as persistent redness or changes in the skin texture.
The most common complication of infantile hemangioma is ulceration (skin breakdown) which often occurs in specific locations on the body (diaper area, lips, scalp) and when hemangiomas are growing rapidly. Other complications may develop with certain high risk locations such as around the mouth or eyes.