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Skin Problems & Treatments Health Center

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Cosmetic Procedures, Birthmarks, and Other Abnormal Skin Pigmentation

Hemangioma

Hemangiomas are caused by many tiny blood vessels bunched together and are raised off of the skin.  They can vary in size from a few millimeters to several centimeters. Hemangiomas can grow very rapidly through the first year of a child's life.  Most hemangiomas will slowly go away in a few years. 

Most hemangiomas will go away on their own; roughly 50% resolve by age 5, 70% by age 7, and 90% by age 9.

Some hemangiomas may be near the eye, nose, lips or genitalia.  Hemangiomas in these sensitive areas need to be treated so that they don’t interfere with seeing, breathing, eating, or defecating.  These hemangiomas can also break down or ulcerate easily, becoming very painful.  Reasons to treat hemangioma include problems with functions (such as sight, eating, hearing, or defecation), ulceration, or pain. Hemangiomas can be treated in different ways, each of which carries its own risks.

Corticosteroid medication, which can be injected or taken orally, is one option for treating hemangiomas. Risks associated with corticosteroid medication include high blood pressure, high blood sugar, poor growth, or cataracts. If corticosteroids fail, there are other medications such as propranolol that may be an option.

Certain hemangiomas can also be treated with lasers to stop them from growing. Risks associated with that treatment include ulceration and scarring.

In some cases, a hemangioma can also be removed with surgery. Other times, a combination of these approaches is the most beneficial treatment.

Port-wine Stains

Picture of Port Wine Stains 

Port-wine stains are caused by abnormal development of blood vessels (capillaries) and last a lifetime. The port-wine stain (also known as nevus flammeus) appears as a flat, pink, red or purple mark, and can occur on the face, trunk, arms, or legs.

If you or your child has a port-wine stain present on eyelids, this is thought to pose an increased risk of glaucoma, an eye disease associated with increased pressure in the eyes that can lead to blindness if it's not treated.

Doctors have tried many ways to treat port-wine stains, including radiation, tattooing, freezing, dermabrasion, or sclerotherapy. Laser treatment is the preferred treatment because it is the only method that destroys capillaries in the skin without causing damage to the rest of the skin.

Port-wine stains may be seen in certain medical disorders, including Sturge-Weber Syndrome, with symptoms that include port-wine stains on the face, vision problems, convulsions, mental retardation, and perhaps even paralysis; and Klippel-Trenaunay Syndrome, which may include symptoms of many port-wine stains, varicose veins, and/or too much bone and soft tissue growth. Each of these syndromes is very rare.

Skin Pigmentation Disorders

Albinism

Albinism, an inherited disorder, is caused by the absence of the pigment melanin and results in no pigmentation in skin, hair, or eyes. In albino patients, the body has an abnormal gene, which restricts the body from producing melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color. There is no cure for albinism, and individuals should use a sunscreen at all times because they are much more likely to get sun damage and skin cancer. This disorder can occur in any race.

WebMD Medical Reference

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