A cherry angioma, a form of hemangioma, is a bright red bump on the skin. It is a benign over-proliferation of blood vessels that increases in frequency with age. While the mechanisms that cause cherry angiomas to arise are currently unknown, it has no known association with other diseases and are not worrisome.
A cherry angioma will initially appear as a flat bright red spot, though color can range from red to dark purple. This initial growth is tiny – usually less than a fraction of a millimeter in diameter. As the lesion ages it will grow slightly and become raised but will usually stay smaller than a millimeter or two.
Cherry angiomas are benign and do not require treatment to maintain physical health, but can be cosmetically concerning. In addition, these growths can catch on clothing and jewelry and become inflamed and irritated. Because these growths are composed primarily of blood vessels they may bleed profusely and repeatedly when injured. Fortunately, a few treatment options exist. Electrocautery, in which an electrical current is used to destroy the lesion, is a highly effective technique but may leave a scar. New advances in dermatologic technology have given physicians a new treatment option: IPL or intense pulsed light laser. This technology allows dermatologists to specifically target the blood vessels in the lesion, thereby destroying the hemangioma without as much risk for scarring and with a better cosmetic outcome.
Cherry angiomas may be harmless, but any new and persistent skin growths should be evaluated by a physician to rule out a more serious disease process. A hemangioma may be easily recognizable to the trained eye, but early cherry angiomas may mimic other more serious diseases in their early stages. Schedule an appointment with a dermatologist if you or your child has a new skin lesion.