Infantile hemangiomas, what are they?

Infantile hemangiomas are usually benign tumors. They are characterized by proliferation of blood vessels abnormally They are usually located on the skin, although they can also be found in other organs. In this article we explain what they are and what to do before them.

What are childhood hemangiomas?

They are tumors, as we have already said, usually benign, which usually affect the skin. It is one of the most frequent neoplasms in breastfeeding and childhood. In addition, they affect three times more the female sex than the male. They are usually located on the face or on the scalp.

Although most infantile hemangiomas are benign, part of them lead to complications. These are flat or elevated reddish tumors that, first of all, affect aesthetically. In addition, they can compress neighboring structures such as eyes, nose, mouth, and so on.

Infantile hemangiomas they present a evolution scheme. They have a first phase in which there is rapid growth, rapidly increasing its volume and size. Then, there is a resting phase, in which the hemangioma changes very little.

Finally, there is an involution phase in which begins to disappear naturally. However, it is advisable to intervene if they are large or if they produce complications.

Why do infantile hemangiomas occur?

The limitation of oxygen at some moments of gestation has been related to the future development of hemangiomas.

The reasons for their formation are not known. But nevertheless, a number of risk factors have been discovered that could be related to the development of infantile hemangiomas.

In the first place, Spanish researchers from Hospital La Paz in Madrid state that the lack of oxygen in the placenta during the first months of pregnancy could produce alterations in placental circulation. This alteration could be related to hemangiomas.

Other studies relate infantile hemangiomas with old age of the mother and multiple gestation. In the same way, they are related to placenta previa and preeclampsia. It has been seen that the more premature the baby is, the more likely it is to develop a hemangioma. Therefore, researchers associate the lack of oxygen to their development.

Types of infantile hemangiomas

Infantile hemangiomas can be cutaneous or internal. Generally, They are usually classified according to:

  • The depth of the affected vessels: They can be superficial, deep or mixed. The superficial ones are usually bright red papules. On the contrary, the deep ones are bluish tumors or the color of the skin.
  • According to its form and distribution: they can be focal, segmental or multiple.


Most are diagnosed by a Physical exam. It is necessary to make a complete clinical history. The data of pregnancy, the perinatal period and the evolution of the lesion should be detailed. Most infantile hemangiomas start as pink or pale spots. Therefore, they can be confused with nevi, traumatisms or malformations.

Complementary techniques can be performed for diagnosis. Between them They include ultrasound, magnetic resonance and skin biopsy. The skin biopsy is the most indicated to differentiate them from other lesions.


The complications most typical are usually at the local level. Cutaneous infantile hemangiomas can ulcerate. This increases the risk of infection, in addition to causing pain. When hemangiomas are near the eye they can alter vision, causing astigmatism, strabismus, and even loss of vision.