If the tiny, mole-like red bumps on your skin have made you go on a googling session, we got an expert to give you some answers. The shiny, red bumps on your skin are called cherry angiomas and according to Dr. Kiran Sethi, “They are an abnormal amount of blood vessels that occur as you age. 75% of people above the age of 75 will get them, but young people can get them too.” Angiomas, in general, are a benign form of tumour that results from an overgrowth of blood capillaries. They show up on parts of your body in the form of cherry red, tiny raised dots and are often spotted on adults over the age of 30 (very rarely in children). Even though the condition is completely benign, there are some who seek to understand it and help to get it treated. Here are some of the most pressing questions about cherry angiomas answered...
- What are the major causes of cherry angiomas?
- Where do cherry angiomas most commonly show up?
- When do cherry angiomas need to be looked at by a professional?
- What are some of the treatment options available for cherry angiomas?
- What are the side effects involved with removal of cherry angiomas?
- Can cherry angiomas be removed at home?
- FAQs about cherry angioma
What are the major causes of cherry angiomas?
Unlike other skin issues we have discussed on this page, the causes behind cherry angiomas are still relatively unknown. Nobody has a concrete answer to why these benign tumours occur in the first place. Always related to the natural process of ageing, the cherry-red bumps have been seen to grow in numbers as you get older. The condition is quite common too, showing up in about 50% of people at some point in their lives. In terms of appearance, they are very small in size, on average one to three millimetres, but can vary in size depending on the individual. Usually shaped like a circle or oval shape. Cherry angiomas can very easily be confused with freckles or moles, because of their red colour, and varying degrees of being raised. They are smooth to touch, however, you can feel them if they are even slightly raised from your skin.
Some anecdotal studies have associated cherry angiomas genetics in some people, pregnancy, certain medical conditions, and the weather that individuals have to deal with on a daily basis. However, these factors have not been exclusively linked to the condition and are common underlying causes of other skin issues.
Where do cherry angiomas most commonly show up?
Similar to their underlying causes, cherry angiomas are unpredictable as to where they will show up as well. They can show up in any part of your body, even the face and scalp not excluded from that list. Having said that, some of the most common places that they do pop up are the chest, abdomen, back, arms, and legs. There are of course exceptions to this condition, they are unlikely to show up on the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet. This is because angiomas, in general, are known to grow on sites where the blood vessels cluster together, leading to the skin in that area to lose thickness. And the skin on your palms of the hands and soles of the feet is able to retain considerable thickness as compared to other areas of your body.
When do cherry angiomas need to be looked at by a professional?
When it comes to seeking treatment for cherry angiomas, Dr. Sethi recommends, "Don’t, they are completely benign and nothing to worry about at all!". They are known to be harmless to the health of your skin. The cause for concern is raised when there is a sudden popping up of several lesions, which is when you should get checked as it can be some other form of angioma. Most people seek to get them treated when their appearance becomes too annoying to look at. Some people might also notice bleeding or discomfort if the angiomas get scratched or picked on, which is when you should see a dermatologist. There are also options of cosmetic removal of these lesions, with cases involving scalp angiomas being high in demand as they can often snag on hair brushes and cause discomfort.
What are some of the treatment options available for cherry angiomas?
A quick consultation with your dermatologist is enough to settle on the right kind of treatment for your individual case of cherry angiomas. Some of the usual approaches to the treatment are:
1. Electrocautery -
Electrocautery, also known as electrodesiccation, is a procedure that uses electrical current to burn off abnormal growths on the skin. This form of treatment is often recommended by experts for benign tumors (like cherry angiomas) and other serious kinds of skin cancers. They are conducted by first using a local anesthetic to numb the area and then use a probe to cauter off clustered blood vessels and get rid of the angioma.
2. Laser removal -
Laser surgery can opt for cherry angiomas removal as well. A pulsed dye laser (PDL) is used to focus concentrated heat on the angioma and get rid of the lesion. One of the major USPs of this treatment is that it is quick and doesn't need admittance to the clinic on your end. The treatment is done in sessions but the results can vary according to skin tone. It is recommended to schedule the treatment strategically as there is some downtime to it (about 4 weeks) during which you need to pay close attention to it. This method is quick and is done as an outpatient procedure, which means you won’t have to stay in the hospital overnight. Depending on how many angiomas you have, you may need between one and three treatment sessions.
3. Cryotherapy -
A quite innovative procedure, cryosurgery takes steps to freeze the angiomas with liquid nitrogen and destroy the blood vessels that supply into those angiomas. The principle followed here is that liquid nitrogen is sprayed on the angioma and the extreme cold makes it blister or peel, before completely falling off. While it is quick, easy and requires little to no downtime for healing, the procedure is less effective than the others mentioned on this list.
4. Shave excision -
As the name suggests, shave excision involves the removal of the cherry angioma lesions from the surface of the skin. After applying an anaesthetic, the lesion is cut out and shaved, but in a far less invasive way as compared to other lesion removal procedures.
What are the side effects involved with removal of cherry angiomas?
Like many other clinical skin procedures, the removal of cherry angiomas can also have some side effects. Procedures like excision and cautery can cause certain discomforts after the treatment. They can also leave behind small and white scars, which are visible sometimes. Electrocautery can also cause some bruising that can take up to 10 days to disappear, post which they might turn grey or a much darker colour. The downtime for healing in these procedures involves avoiding exposure to the sun for at least 4 weeks prior and 2 weeks post the treatments to minimise the chances of developing side effects. While it is not the case for everyone, you can expect some form of scarring while getting rid of cherry angiomas.
Can cherry angiomas be removed at home?
One of the most important precautions to take with cherry angiomas is to avoid dealing with them yourself. No DIY home remedy can shrink or zap these bumps so they should not be relied upon. This is because without the proper diagnosis by a doctor, you might end up picking on more serious kinds of moles. Attempting to pick cherry angiomas on your own can also be very painful and lead to permanent scarring in the area. So make sure you are consulting a dermatologist before approaching the treatment and removal of a cherry angioma.
FAQs about cherry angioma
Q. Can you pop a cherry angioma?
A. Cherry angiomas are lesions of clustered blood vessels, not a form of acne. Popping them at home can lead to bleeding, pain and other forms of scarring.
Q. How do you stop cherry angiomas from forming?
A. While there are no specific rules to avoiding cherry angiomas to develop in the first place, proper skin care practices, like using SPF and keeping your skin hydrated, can help deal with the many signs of skin ageing.