Treatments and drugsBy Mayo Clinic staff
The majority of hemangiomas never need any form of treatment. Treatment of hemangiomas is somewhat controversial. Some parents feel that hemangioma treatment is necessary because the marks can be disfiguring and may cause social or psychological problems. Doctors, however, may be hesitant to treat a hemangioma that isn't causing physical problems because hemangiomas usually fade gradually without treatment, and because treatments have potential side effects. If the growth interferes with your child's vision or causes other problems, treatment options may include:
- Laser surgery. Lasers can stop the growth of a hemangioma. Sometimes lasers can be used to remove a hemangioma or treat sores on a hemangioma that won't heal. The risks are potentially serious and include pain, infection, bleeding, scarring and changes in skin color.
- Corticosteroid medications. Corticosteroids can be injected, given by mouth or applied to the skin. These medications are most effective when they're given during the growth phase. They're used to stop the growth of the hemangioma and sometimes reverse it. Long-term or repeated treatment may be needed. The risks are potentially serious and include poor growth, high blood sugar, high blood pressure and clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye (cataract).
Research to find other treatments with fewer side effects is ongoing. Some newer, though still experimental, treatments include beta blockers, interferon alfa and topical immune suppressants.
If you're considering treatment for your child's hemangioma, weigh the pros and cons with your child's doctor. Remember, most infantile hemangiomas disappear on their own during childhood.
- What is a vascular birthmark? American Academy of Dermatology. http://www.aad.org/public/publications/pamphlets/common_vascular.html. Accessed July 12, 2010.
- Metry DW. Epidemiology; pathogenesis; clinical features; and complications of infantile hemangiomas. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed July 7, 2010.
- Metry DW. Management of infantile hemangiomas. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed July 7, 2010.