With Valentines’ Day just around the corner, many people have red hearts, candies, and Valentine’s cards on the mind. While for most, red is associated with the feeling of love, some are not so happy about seeing red. Many skin conditions develop into red lesions and are a cosmetic discomfort and even self esteem altering. Many of these conditions are minor, such as telangiectasias and cherry angiomas, but others can be disfiguring and even life threatening.
The most common red skin vascular lesions are telangiectasias and cherry angiomas. Teleangiectasias are very small dilated blood vessels located just beneath the surface of the skin. They appear as small red lines, and although they can form on any part of the body, they tend to be most noticeable on the face, especially around the nose and cheeks. Teleangiectasias are harmless lesions, but in rare cases can be related to a more serious medical condition. They will frequently develop in patients who struggle with acne and rosacea, but also occur from sun, heat, or cold exposure. Cherry angiomas are also benign and formed by vascular tissue. Cherry angiomas become visible as red or red-purple circular or oval spots on the skin. Frequently flat, cherry angiomas can become raised and may bleed excessively if scratched. The true cause of angiomas is unknown, but it is believed they have a genetic component and may become more numerous with sun exposure.
As innocent as telangiectasias and cherry angiomas are, for many people they are a constant cosmetic nuisance. Luckily, both vascular lesions are easily treated. Treatment of choice is frequently laser therapy, where a light beam is used to heat up the vascular tissue under the skin. The vessels will then seal themselves stopping the blood supply. The visible lesions quickly fade and the underlying vascular tissue can then be reabsorbed by the surrounding tissues. The procedure takes only minutes and causes minimal discomfort and no downtime.
Although cherry angiomas and teleangiectasias are bothersome, other vascular lesions can become disfiguring. Hemangiomas are red vascular tumors that appear at birth or soon after. They are known to grow very quickly over the first months of life and can occur on any organ. When a hemangioma develops on the skin, it will appear as a large red tumor and can range in size from millimeters, to the size of a golf ball or larger. After 12 months, the tumors typically begin to shrink, and may eventually disappear completely. Hemangiomas on the skin are frequently not treated since self resolution is expected, unless the lesion is at risk for causing excessive bleeding or develops an infection.
Other vascular lesions, called vascular malformations, result from abnormalities during fetal growth. Vascular malformations typically continue to grow throughout a patient’s lifetime, and are more likely to be related to an underlying systemic disorder. The more common of these lesions, port wine stains and stock bites, are flat to raised red/purple lesions. Other vascular malformations become so raised that they distort the appearance of the face. Depending on the vascular malformation location, it may be determined that treatment is in the best interest of the patient in order to prevent complications and prevent changing the patient’s self image. These lesions can be treated with injections, surgery, and even laser treatment.
For more information on vascular lesions and how you can stop seeing red, contact Kayal’s Dermatology & Med Spa for an appointment with Dr. John Kayal at 770-426-7177.