What are cherry angiomas?
Cherry angiomas are common skin growths that can develop on most areas of your body. They are also known as senile angiomas or Campbell de Morgan spots.
They are usually found on people aged 30 and older. The broken blood vessels inside a cherry angioma give them a reddish appearance.
This type of skin growth is typically not a cause for concern unless it bleeds often or changes in size, shape, or color. Talk to your doctor if you notice any bleeding or changes in appearance. These could be symptoms of skin cancer.
What do they look like?
A cherry angioma is often bright red, circular or oval in shape, and small — ranging in size from a pinpoint to one-fourth of an inch in diameter. Some cherry angiomas appear smooth and even with your skin, while others appear slightly raised. They most often grow on the torso, arms, and shoulders.
Bleeding can occur if the angioma is scratched, rubbed, or cut open.
What causes cherry angiomas?
The exact cause of cherry angiomas is unknown, but there may be a genetic factor that makes certain people more likely to get them. They’ve also been linked to pregnancy, exposure to chemicals, and climate.
There also appears to be a link between cherry angiomas and age. They often begin to appear when individuals reach 30 years old, and seem to increase in size and number with age.
When to seek medical treatment for cherry angiomas
If you notice any changes in the way a cherry angioma looks, schedule an appointment with your doctor. It is important to have any type of lesion or growth looked at when its appearance changes. Your doctor will be able to rule out serious conditions, such as skin cancer.
Your doctor may decide to do a biopsy, which involves removing and examining a small sample of the area, in order to diagnose or rule out other conditions.
How are cherry angiomas treated?
You probably won’t need to have a cherry angioma treated, but you do have options if you want it removed for cosmetic reasons. Or if you might need to have it removed because it is in an area that is easily bumped, which can lead to regular bleeding.
There are a few common procedures for removing cherry angiomas.
This surgical method of treatment involves burning the angioma by using an electric current delivered by a tiny probe. For this procedure, you will also have a grounding pad placed somewhere on your body to ground the rest of your body from a surge of electricity.
This procedure involves freezing the angioma with liquid nitrogen. The extreme cold will destroy it. This method is known for being a quick and relatively easy procedure.
You often only need one treatment session for cryosurgery to work, and the liquid nitrogen is usually sprayed for only about 10 seconds. The wound doesn’t require much care afterward. And there is a lower chance of infection compared to other types of interventions.
This type of surgery involves using a pulsed dye laser (PDL) to get rid of the cherry angioma. The PDL is a concentrated yellow laser that gives off enough heat to destroy the lesion. This method is quick and is done as an outpatient procedure, which means you will not have to stay in the hospital overnight.
Depending on how many angiomas you have, you may need between one and three treatment sessions. This surgery can cause slight bruising, which can last up to 10 days.
This procedure involves removing the angioma from the top portion of skin. Shave excision is an alternative to invasive surgery that would involve cutting out the lesion or growth and using stitches, or sutures, to close the wound.
If you do have angiomas removed with any of these methods, scarring is uncommon but always possible.
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Cherry angiomas and long-term outlook
A cherry angioma won’t go away on its own, but it’s also unlikely to cause you any problems, although it can bleed from time to time if your clothes rub against it.
However, a cherry angioma that changes in size, shape, or color is cause for concern and should be looked at by your primary care doctor or dermatologist.
You Asked, We Answered
- What other conditions might cause red spots or bleeding into the skin?
Reddened areas of the skin are a common concern. Spider angiomas are named due to the branching of tiny blood vessels away from its small red center. These are commonly seen with hormonal shifts in the body. Rosacea typically occurs on the cheeks and face. It can be mistaken for acne and is often aggravated by the sun. Telangiectasia forms from fragile blood vessels that lie close to the skin. These areas are much larger than spider angiomas and can be a sign of a serious health condition. It is important to have any skin changes evaluated by your doctor.- Judi Marcin, MD