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Infantile Haemangioma

Infantile Haemangioma - What it is

Infantile haemangiomas are collections of small blood vessels.

They are most often found on the skin, but rarely may be found in other organs (eg. liver).

Although they can occur on any part of the skin, they most commonly occur on the head and neck region.

They are relatively common and occur in one to two percent of babies. They occur more commonly in baby girls than boys, in premature babies and twins.

Infantile Haemangioma - Symptoms

They can be "superficial" when they appear reddish, “deep” when they appear bluish, or “mixed” where they appear both bluish and reddish.

Haemangiomas are usually not obvious at birth but become apparent after a few days or weeks of life.

They grow rapidly in the first four to five months, and then undergo a ‘rest period’ where the growth slows or stops.

After about one year of life, haemangiomas starts to shrink and become lighter in colour. This shrinkage occurs at a rate of approximately ten percent per year.

After it goes away, the skin may not be entirely normal. Possible residual skin changes occurring over the site of the haemangioma include visible small blood vessels (telangiectasias), uneven skin texture and colour, and scarring.

Haemangiomas around the eye may cause problems with vision. Those around the mouth may cause feeding problems.

Large haemangiomas on the jaw line ("beard" distribution) may be associated with involvement of the airways, leading to breathing problems.

Large haemangiomas on the head and neck region may be associated with brain, eye or heart abnormalities (PHACES syndrome). Further tests may be required to exclude these problems.

Large haemangiomas on the groin region may be associated with genital or spinal problems (pelvis syndrome). Further tests may be required to exclude these problems.

Some larger haemangiomas, especially those in the groin region may bleed or ulcerate, causing pain and scarring.

Babies having five or more haemangiomas may have haemangiomas in the liver. They may also have thyroid abnormalities. Your child’s doctor will discuss with you regarding further tests to exclude these problems.

Infantile Haemangioma - How to prevent?

Infantile Haemangioma - Causes and Risk Factors

Infantile Haemangioma - Diagnosis

Haemangiomas are diagnosed clinically and with a doppler. This is a non-invasive bed-side test that allows the detection of a feeding blood vessel, characteristic of haemangiomas. Rarely, other imaging tests such as ultrasound or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), or a biopsy is required.

Infantile Haemangioma - Treatments

Most haemangiomas do not require treatment.

Factors that may determine if a haemangioma requires treatment include the size, site (eg. eyelids, nose, lips) and potential for complications (eg. ulceration).

Treatment options for haemangiomas include:
  • Topicals (eg. timolol gel/ drops, steroid creams)
  • Injections (eg. intralesional kenacort)
  • Oral medications (eg. propranolol, oral steroids)
  • Lasers (eg. pulsed dye laser)
  • Surgery

Infantile Haemangioma - Preparing for surgery

Infantile Haemangioma - Post-surgery care

Infantile Haemangioma - Other Information

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