- 1 What are Cherry Angiomas?
- 2 Cherry Angioma Cause
- 3 Cherry Angiomas – Diagnosis
- 4 Cherry Angioma Treatment
- 5 Cherry Angioma – Home Remedies
Most people are familiar with the appearance of small red moles on the skin. These are often raised into a dome shape and if injured, they tend to bleed profusely. As with many other features of the skin, these lesions tend to become more common with increasing years and, although they are not unknown in younger people, they most commonly affect those in middle and old age. They are commonly referred to as red moles but have a variety of other names including cherry angiomas, senile angiomas and Campbell de Morgan spots (named after the noted 19th century British surgeon who first studied and described them). The name angioma is derived from the Greek word angeiou meaning vessel as these spots consist of a proliferation of new blood vessels. The cherry prefix of course refers to their colour as these spots are invariably red or purple in colour.
What are Cherry Angiomas?
Cherry angiomas are quite simply a small collection of capillaries just beneath the surface of the skin. When they first appear, they usually take the form of a very small red spot often smaller than a pinhead but this usually grows to form a larger growth sometimes up to 1 cm in diameter, occasionally even larger. As they grow, they tend to become slightly raised from the skin surface but in some cases they may remain completely flat.
They are normally fairly symmetrical in shape, often round or oval and they have a clearly defined boundary. Colour may vary from a bright red through to purple but they are always of a single colour. Any multicoloured skin lesion could possibly be a sign of a more serious condition such as one of the forms of skin cancer and, needless to say, expert medical examination is necessary. The same goes for lesions lacking the clearly defined boundary which tend to simply merge into the surrounding area of skin. The good news is that cherry angiomas are considered to be of no medical significance and normally require no treatment. That being said, as with all skin lesions, their appearance should be constantly monitored and any changes in appearance or frequent bleeding will require expert medical assessment.
Cherry angiomas frequently occur singly or in small numbers but occasionally they may appear as aggressive eruptions. Angiomas of this type can occur in patients of all ages and are not limited to the more usual older individuals. In cases where multiple angiomas occur, the normally symmetrical shape of these spots can become distorted as neighbouring angiomas join up with their neighbours forming a condition known as polypoid angiomas. Cherry angiomas tend to be small in size unlike the related condition hemangiomas which is the name given to the often large lesions which commonly affect newborn and very young babies.
Cherry Angioma Cause
The precise causes of cherry angiomas remain a mystery in most cases. It is known that some environmental factors can give rise to this condition and exposure to certain chemicals causes their formation. Bromides, cyclosporine, 2-butoxyethanol and even mustard gas are known antagonists but there may also be some genetic disposition. Recent studies of angiomas have revealed that the skin in these areas tends to show reduced levels of microRNA 424 and this in turn leads to an increase in the levels of certain proteins, namely MEK1 and cyclin E1. One of the effects of this is the proliferation of endothelial cells. The capillaries present in an angioma also tend to be of a particularly porous type described as being fenestrated.
Cherry Angiomas – Diagnosis
The skin is the body’s largest organ and also the most visible and any abnormality is soon detected. The major cause for concern is the fact that these small skin lesions can look disturbingly similar to malignant tumours and for this reason, any spots or moles which grow rapidly, bleed frequently or have an angry appearance must be examined by a doctor. Cherry angiomas are extremely common and in almost all cases, diagnosis will simply be made by visual examination. Further investigation, such as the taking of biopsies, will only be undertaken in cases where there is a suspicion, or possibility that other causative factors may be involved.
Cherry Angioma Treatment
As cherry angiomas are of no medical significance, no treatment is normally necessary. Depending on the specific location of the angiomas however, some people may elect to have them removed for cosmetic or practical reasons such as if they are in a position prone to injury resulting in frequent bleeding. Clinical removal may be performed in a variety of ways such as by electrocautery, intense pulsed light (IPL), cryosurgery or even simply by shave excision where the lesion is literally shaved off the skin, under a local anaesthetic of course.
An alternative is to use a chemical cauter by applying a suitable chemical such as silver nitrate or trichloroacetic acid but this is rarely done due to the effectiveness of the above treatments. In many cases, the medical authorities will be unwilling to carry out angioma removal especially where this is for purely cosmetic reasons but there is a long history of home remedies with many reports of success. This site in no way recommends or endorses any of these remedies which range from folklore to old-wives’ tales but they are included purely for information. Anyone attempting such home cures does so entirely at their own risk.
Cherry Angioma – Home Remedies
Apple cider vinegar is a favourite among holistic healers and in this instance, the method of use is said to be to put a piece of vinegar-soaked material onto the spot and hold it there for half an hour. This should be done on a daily basis. Tea tree oil is another popular product which again should be applied daily. It should only be applied directly to the angioma itself and it is advisable to mix it with olive oil rather than applying the neat product.
There is some indication that those with an iodine deficient diet may have increased susceptibility to angiomas and so the recommendation is to ensure that one’s diet includes suitable iodine-rich foods such as white fish, dairy products, nuts and berries. This would seem to be an unlikely remedy for existing angiomas but may offer some future protection.
The use of the sap of a dandelion root, applied to the spot two or three times a week has also been suggested. Another herbal folklore remedy is to use the sap of the mole plant. This plant euphorbia lathyris goes by many different names such as gopher spurge, paper spurge or caper spurge and its sap produces latex. The reference to moles is normally regarded as being due to the plant’s reported ability to deter those rather charming furry gardeners which tend to make hills in lawns rather than the skin spots but there is a long history of this plant being used for the removal of abnormal skin growths from cancer to corns and warts. All parts of this plant are poisonous and its sap can cause skin blisters so great care would need to be exercised in its use.
Perhaps the old-wives’ tale with the highest reported success is the method of burning away the lesion using a hot pin. A pin can be held by passing it through a cork and it is then heated, usually with a cigarette lighter. It is then applied to the angioma. This sounds fairly horrific but is said to be not as painful as may be expected. The burnt area will then scab over and hopefully heal minus the cherry angioma. For a large lesion, several burns would be required.
So cherry angiomas may sound like a pleasant dessert but dealing with them can be far from sweet!