An Overview of Cherry Angioma

These skin growths are most common in adults over the age of 30

Close-up of a cherry angioma

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A cherry angioma (also commonly called cherry hemangiomas, Campbell de Morgan spots, or senile angioma) is a bright red or purple spot made up of blood vessels. They often appear on the torso of the body, though they can develop anywhere, including the arms, legs, chest, and even the scalp. Cherry angiomas are benign (non-cancerous) skin growths and are extremely common in adults after the age of 30 years old.

Symptoms

A cherry angioma is classified as a bright, cherry-red or purple spot, which is due to the dilated capillaries that they’re made up of. They can range widely in size, from a tiny dot to several millimeters in diameter.

Cherry angiomas are commonly round to oval-shaped. For some people, their cherry angioma is smooth and flat; for others, they develop as a raised bump on the skin.

It’s also possible for a cherry angioma to start out small and flat and grow into a larger bump. This shouldn’t cause alarm, as even if a cherry angioma grows it’s still completely benign.

Cherry angiomas may also occasionally bleed, especially if irritated by clothing or other external factors. Again, this is a normal symptom and shouldn’t make you worry if you find it happening to you.

Causes

Cherry angiomas are one of the more common skin growths and, while it’s possible for children to have them, they are most common in adults over the age of 30.

Research published in the International Journal of Dermatology found that over 50 percent of adults have cherry angiomas on their skin. There’s also been a direct link to acquiring more cherry angiomas as you get older.

Aside from age, genetics plays a role in how likely you are to have cherry angiomas on the skin. If you find your parents and grandparents have them there’s a good chance you will, too.

Certain chemicals and gases in the environment can also cause cherry angiomas to appear in clusters after exposure as well as even certain climates.

It’s also possible that hormones play a role in the appearance of cherry angiomas, as pregnant women may discover them after giving birth. This is linked to the increase of prolactin in their body, which is the hormone that stimulates breastmilk production.

Diagnosis

In order to diagnose a cherry angioma, your general practitioner or dermatologist will look at the growth to confirm what it is. In some cases, they may request a biopsy, but this would only be if they didn’t think it was a cherry angioma and another potentially harmful skin growth instead.

Your doctor may also want to check for a separate type of skin growth called spider angiomas. These are extremely similar to cherry angiomas, appearing as small red dots surrounded by thin capillaries (giving them a spider-like appearance).

Most common during pregnancy and in children, spider angiomas that appear suddenly and in groups may be a warning sign for liver damage. If your doctor thinks your cherry angiomas may actually be spider angiomas they may decide to run additional blood or imaging tests to check the health of your liver.

Treatment

Cherry angiomas don’t typically need to be treated but can be if they are bothering you or bleeding often. The good news is that there are a few non-invasive ways to treat and remove them. All of these methods cause minimally to no scarring, meaning that once they are taken off you likely won’t remember where your cherry angiomas were to begin with.

Removal techniques are also relatively painless, causing you little discomfort should you decide to get your cherry angiomas taken off. Below are the most common ways to remove a cherry angioma:

  • Electrodesiccation: A cherry angioma is removed by touching the spot with an electric needle, which destroys and breaks up the blood vessels.
  • Liquid nitrogen or cryotherapy: Cold gas is sprayed using a probe directly on the cherry angioma, which will cause it to fall off in a matter of few hours.
  • Laser: Using one concentrated beam, a laser can target the specific cherry angioma and shrink it, eventually causing it to disappear. There’s some debate on whether or not this is an effective treatment for cherry angiomas and may be better suited for other skin growths and lesions.
  • Excision: For large cherry angiomas, your dermatologist may decide to remove the growth with a sharp razor. The area of the skin will be prepped with a numbing injection before the removal, and the entire procedure takes less than 10 minutes.

For all treatment procedures, it’s possible that cherry angiomas may grow back over time. If so, treatment can be repeated once the cherry angiomas start to resurface and bother the patient again.

A Word From Verywell

Depending on where they are on your body and how many of them you have you may feel self-conscious about cherry angiomas. But research has found that 75 percent of adults over the age of 75 have them, making these skin growths a frequent issue many people deal with.

If you think you have a cherry angioma, it's important to mention it to your dermatologist so that they can perform a skin check to rule out another possibly harmful lesion. The same is to be said If your cherry angioma changes and gets bigger over time (and you've self-diagnosed as being a cherry angioma). Your dermatologist will give your skin a check to ensure it is a cherry angioma and not a red mole that could possibly be malignant.

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