Skin Care

Understanding and Dealing with Cherry Angiomas: Causes, Risks, and Removal Options

Cherry Angiomas, also known as red mole or red spot, are often an irritating and sometimes unsightly skin condition. The good news from a medical perspective is that there is generally no cause for concern. However, if you wish to get rid of them, removing Cherry Angiomas will require reaching the dermis.

In the following guide, dermatologists break down all the essential information you need to know about Cherry Angiomas, including their primary causes and potential ways to eliminate them, if desired.

What are Cherry Angiomas?

Cherry Angiomas are benign growths composed of blood vessels, giving them their characteristic red color. They are typically small, averaging one to three millimeters, but can be larger. These growths are usually round or oval and, aside from their red hue, resemble freckles or moles. Similar to freckles and moles, they can be flat or slightly raised.

These red spots can appear on any part of the body, including the face and scalp. However, they are most commonly found on the chest, abdomen, back, arms, and legs, even though the reasons for their occurrence remain unclear.

Two areas where you won’t find? The palms of your hands and the soles of your feet. As the angiomas grow, blood vessels cluster together, causing the skin they cover to thin. However, the skin on the palms and soles is much thicker than anywhere else on the body, preventing this occurrence. (This is not to say that these areas cannot be home to other skin growths, such as warts).

Primary Causes of Cherry Angiomas

Similar to many other skin conditions, the exact root cause of remains unclear. There is limited knowledge about why these spots appear, but there may be a genetic component.

However, age is a contributing factor; these red spots typically appear in one’s twenties or thirties and increase over time, although the reasons for this are unknown. Additionally, exposure to sunlight, as if you needed another reason to apply sunscreen daily, can lead to the appearance of these red spots on the skin. The exact mechanism or the type of ultraviolet radiation involved is currently unclear, although anecdotally, individuals with more sun exposure often develop more Cherry Angiomas.

There is also a correlation between Cherry Angiomas and pregnancy, attributed to higher estrogen levels. Increased estrogen causes blood vessels to dilate, meaning vessel size increases. However, despite all pregnant women experiencing blood vessel dilation, it is still unclear why some women may develop while others do not. (If you’re pregnant, you might also get skin tags or experience other peculiar but entirely normal skin-related side effects).

Similarly, Cherry Angiomas are associated with liver dysfunction. In patients with liver disease, the liver cannot metabolize estrogen, leading to higher hormone levels. These patients may develop, but more commonly, they develop something called spider angiomas. Cherry Angiomas appear as single red spots or moles on the skin, while spider angiomas have a central red spot surrounded by smaller spider-like veins.

Risks of Cherry Angiomas

Fortunately, Cherry Angiomas do not pose any real danger, as they are benign lesions.

However, these red spots can become bothersome, depending on their size and location. (Remember: They can be slightly raised). For example, if you have one on your scalp, combing your hair might be troublesome, or if you have one on your waist, your pants might rub against it, causing discomfort. Sometimes, depending on size and location, they may bleed if traumatized, meaning if something rubs against them for too long, exposing the blood vessels. Unfortunately, given the high concentration of blood vessels in Cherry Angiomas, this may result in more bleeding than usual.

There is no need to worry about Cherry Angiomas and skin cancer; do not become cancerous. However, certain skin cancers, such as basal cell carcinoma or even melanoma, may look similar to one of these red spots. Your best course of action is to have your skin checked for any new skin marks or abnormal changes in existing freckles and growths. Otherwise, the only reason to specifically see a doctor about  is if they are growing and in a location where something is rubbing against them, causing bleeding. (Regardless, you should still have your skin regularly examined for any abnormalities).

How to Remove Cherry Angiomas

Now, it’s crucial to emphasize—do not, repeat, do not—take matters into your own hands. There is no cream to remove Cherry Angiomas, and attempting to cut them off yourself can lead to excessive bleeding and scarring. If you don’t remove the entire Cherry Angioma, it may grow back. The safe solution: Consult your dermatologist, as there are several in-office options for removing Cherry Angiomas.

Lesions can be destroyed through laser therapy or electrocautery. The former typically involves targeting and destroying the vessels with pulsed dye lasers; the latter involves heating and removing the lesion through electric current. Cherry Angiomas can also be surgically excised, similar to annoying or aesthetically displeasing moles .

Whichever method, Cherry Angioma removal procedures are quick office surgeries that can eliminate red spots with minimal pain or recovery time. An additional benefit: Cherry Angiomas should not reoccur in the exact same spot, indicating complete removal. A reminder: If you are not bothering you, there is no need to have them removed.

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