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When Cherry Angiomas Have You Seeing Red: 4 Questions Your Dermatologist Can Answer

If you have developed small red bumps on your skin, they may be what are commonly known as cherry angiomas. Some refer to them as Campbell de Morgan spots. These are harmless, although you may prefer to have them removed by a dermatologist for cosmetic reasons. If you believe you have cherry angiomas on any part of your body (including the limbs, chest, back or forehead), it is best to consult with your skin doctor for analysis and treatment options.

Here are a few of your questions answered pertaining to cherry angiomas:

1. Who Is Most Likely to Develop Cherry Angiomas?

Although these harmless red bumps may develop on any individual, they are most common in adults over the age of 30. Although they may be found on all races and skin types, if you are of a fair skin type, your angiomas may be more prominent or noticeable.

2. Are Cherry Angiomas Considered to Be Dangerous?

As a rule, the answer is no. Generally, cherry angiomas do not develop into cancer. However, if you notice these red spots change in appearance (color or size) or if they bleed, you need to make an appointment with a skin specialist. A biopsy can determine if skin cancer is present. Bleeding, however, may be due to the angioma being scratched or rubbed.

3. What Causes These Red Growths to Appear?

Although there is no definitive known cause for cherry angiomas, some medical experts believe a genetic factor plays a key role. In addition, pregnant women seem to be more prone to developing cherry angiomas. Climate may also play a role in contributing to these skin growths. Some cosmetics or chemical additives may be a contributing factor as well. As you age, the cherry angiomas may increase in volume and in size.

4. How Can Cherry Angiomas Be Removed?

While there is typically no medical reason to have these growths removed, you may wish to do so for aesthetic purposes or due to irritation from friction against your skin. Before you have a cherry angioma (or several) removed, your dermatologist may request a medical history.

The doctor will also ask you a few questions pertaining to the red skin growths. You may be asked when they first developed, if they cause you discomfort, or if they have changed in appearance over time. Following an evaluation, the doctor will discuss your treatment options. Here are some of the more common methods of removal:

  • Laser Surgery: The doctor will use a pulsed dye laser. The laser targets the exact area and delivers intense heat that will eradicate the growth. Many individuals prefer this method, as it causes minimal discomfort and is a relatively fast procedure. The procedure is performed in the doctor's office on an outpatient basis. You may need a few treatments, however, depending upon how many cherry angiomas are to be removed. The most common side effect would be minor bruising, which should subside after several days.

  • Cryosurgery: This procedure is used for various types of skin growth removal, including cherry angioma growths. Basically, your dermatologist will use liquid nitrogen, which is sprayed directly on the area to freeze the lesion. The cold temperature acts to destroy the growth. It simply takes several seconds of contacts to work. Many opt for this method, as there is a lower risk of infection involved.

  • Electrocautery: With this technique, a small probe-like device delivers an electric current to the lesion. Due to the electrical current that is delivered, you will need to shield the unaffected areas of your body from the current. This is done with the use of a grounding pad.

  • Excision: As an alternative to traditional surgery to remove the growth (which would require stitches to close the wound), this technique actually shaves off the lesion. Your doctor will apply a topical anesthetic to numb the area before the treatment begins.

It's not recommended to treat your cherry angiomas at home. Doing so may lead to infection or result in permanent scarring. For best results, make an appointment with your dermatologist.