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Should I be Worried About Red Dots on my Skin?


Cherry angiomas, also known as senile angiomas or Campbell de Morgan spots, are common, harmless skin growths. They affect every ethnicity and gender but tend to appear mostly on adults. Since they are benign, individuals with cherry angiomas have an excellent prognosis and do not require treatment.

What is a cherry angioma?

Cherry angiomas are non-cancerous collections of small blood vessels, which give them their characteristic red color. They mostly appear on the trunk and extremities of adults over 30 years of age. By the age of 75, most people have a few angiomas.

What do cherry angiomas look like?

They are bright red, round, flat skin lesions that can grow into red bumps. They usually remain small and don’t often exceed 2-4 mm. Some may become blue or purple. Angiomas are asymptomatic but may bleed if traumatized.

What causes cherry angiomas?

The cause of cherry angiomas is unknown. However, some people may be predisposed to getting them. Some factors that influence a person’s chances of getting cherry angiomas include:

  • Aging
  • Pregnancy
  • Exposure to chemicals, such as nitrogen mustard and bromides
  • Medications, such as cyclosporin or ramucirumab
  • Genetic mutations, specifically to the GNAQ and GNA11 genes
  • Medical conditions, such as chronic graft vs. host disease (GVHD), lymphoproliferative disorders, diabetes, and HHV8 infections
  • Living in tropical climates

How are cherry angiomas diagnosed?

Cherry angiomas are usually diagnosed clinically through physical observation and do not require additional testing. However, if your doctor questions the diagnosis or the lesion has changed in appearance, you may need a biopsy.

How are cherry angiomas treated?

Since cherry angiomas are not cancerous and have no malignant potential, they do not require treatment. Many people choose to have them removed for cosmetic reasons or because they get traumatized, bleed, or are too large and cause them discomfort.

There are several options someone should consider for the removal of cherry angiomas. Scarring may occur with any of these treatment options:

  1. Electrosurgery - Electrosurgery involves using an electric current to burn off the cherry angioma. Providers use local anesthesia to lessen the discomfort.
  2. Cryosurgery - Cryosurgery utilizes cold liquid nitrogen spray to freeze and destroy cherry angiomas. Providers do not need to use anesthesia for this procedure.
  3. Curettage - Curettage is performed with a tool (curette) that scrapes off the cherry angioma. Providers use local anesthesia to lessen the discomfort.
  4. Laser - Lasers, such as pulse dye lasers (PDL), specifically target the hemoglobin in cherry angiomas. PDL clots the blood vessels in the angiomas, which then turn a blue-grey color. Afterwards, the body will reabsorb the blood vessels over the course of a few weeks until they fade completely.
  5. Excision - Cherry angiomas can be excised in two ways, both of which require local anesthesia. They can be shaved off at the skin level, which leaves a round wound to take care of for the next week or so. They can also be cut out with a scalpel and have the wound sewn together with stitches.

Conclusion

Cherry angiomas are common, benign skin growths that have no cancerous potential. Many people remove them for cosmetic reasons or if they bleed. Angiomas can be removed in several ways, depending on the patient's preference.

Key takeaways

Cherry angiomas are common skin growths.

They are benign and have no cancerous potential.

Many people have angiomas removed for cosmetic reasons or if they bleed.

Treatment options include electrosurgery, cryosurgery, curettage, laser, and excision.

Resources

American Academy of Dermatology. Cherry Angiomas.

Bolognia, J, Jorizzo JL, Schaffer, JV. (2012). Dermatology. Philadelphia: Elsevier Saunders.

Buslach, Natalie, et al. “Treatment Modalities for Cherry Angiomas: A Systematic Review.” Dermatologic surgery: official publication for American Society for Dermatologic Surgery [et al.] vol. 46,12 (2020): 1691-1697.

Qadeer HA, Singal A, Patel BC. Cherry Hemangioma. [Updated 2022 May 24]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan.

Siegel, Dawn H. “Cherry Angiomas-Further Expanding the Phenotype With Somatic GNAQ and GNA11 Mutations.” JAMA dermatology vol. 155,2 (2019): 148-149.

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