Childhood Angiomas or Hemangiomas? Let us clarify
When it comes to childhood angiomas reference is usually made to a range of cancer pathologies, also very different from each other, united by the fact that the abnormally proliferated mass is made up of vessels. By the term of hemangioma, instead, a subcategory of angiomas consisting exclusively of the endothelium of blood vessels is identified in medicine, and they occur in three possible forms: simple, cavernous and cystic. All three forms affect the skin with similar frequency.
Included within the family of angiomas are lymphangiomas or tumors associated with other forms such as, for example, myxomas, lipomas, fibromas, etc. The specification of infantile angiomas and hemangiomas indicates the prevalent occurrence of this pathology precisely in childhood, within which it is also possible to speak of postnatal infantile angiomas and congenital angiomas. Said differentiation is necessary for distinguishing angiomas appearing after birth from hemangiomas that form in the fetal period.
Understandably, the latter category of infantile angiomas can only be diagnosed by internal investigations such as, for example, an intrauterine ultrasound.
How angiomas arise
The origin of angiomas in general can be attributed by a multitude of factors due to their non-unique histological nature, while infantile hemangiomas, which, as mentioned, represent a subfamily of angiomas and differ from the latter in that they consist exclusively of blood vessels, are believed to be the consequence of oxygen deficiency or possible metastasis of maternal cells (placenta) that later localized in the fetus. However, to date, a specific cause has not yet been scientifically established.
Clinically speaking, the angiomas, and therefore also hemangiomas, can have different evolutions, most of them without particular consequences for the patient. Normally, the childhood angiomas regress in the early 3-7 years of the child’s life.
Instead, they become of medical concern and may warrant curative intervention when they impair the function of other organs i.e., ulcerate and leak blood. These occur in about the 12% of cases, therefore represent substantially rare complications. For example, if the angioma appears in the periocular area it may in some way affect the regular development of the eye.
In these cases, medical intervention should be considered, which may also find justification in other situations in which the location of the skin swelling constitutes a serious blemish to the individual.
“The Baby’s Birthmarks”
In popular parlance, angiomas are also frequently referred to as “cravings of the child”, meaning, however, by the latter locution a nonspecific skin alteration that encompasses a wide range of different situations. They should therefore not be confused with with infantile angiomas and hemangiomas the simple dark spots caused by an increased concentration of melanocytes, which are detected at the individual’s birth.
As noted above, angiomas can arise in any area of the body, although statistically a higher frequency has been found in the neck and head area. Because they are made up of blood vessels, the infantile hemangiomas They typically present a staining pinkish or reddish and may also be warm to the touch because of the increased blood supply. Swellings may also have irregular borders, but normally have rounded features and extremely variable size.
The thickness within the skin and subcutaneous tissues can also vary considerably from case to case, distinguishing in this regard between superficial and deep hemangiomas.