A hemangioma is diagnosed based on appearance. Diagnostic tests aren't usually needed.
The majority of hemangiomas never need any form of treatment. Some parents feel that hemangioma treatment is necessary because the marks can be disfiguring and may cause social or psychological problems. Doctors may be hesitant to treat a hemangioma that isn't causing physical problems because hemangiomas usually fade gradually without treatment and because treatments have potential side effects.
If the growth interferes with your child's vision or causes other problems, treatment options may include:
- Beta blocker drug. In small, superficial hemangiomas, a gel with the drug timolol may be applied to the affected skin. A severe infantile hemangioma may disappear if treated with an oral solution of propranolol. Side effects can include high blood sugar, high blood pressure and wheezing.
- Corticosteroid medications. For children who don't respond to beta blocker treatments or can't use them, corticosteroids may be an option. They can be injected into the nodule, given by mouth or applied to the skin. Side effects can include poor growth.
- Laser surgery. Sometimes lasers can be used to remove a hemangioma or treat painful sores on a hemangioma.
Research to find other treatments with fewer side effects is ongoing. Some experimental treatments include interferon alfa and topical immune suppressants.
If you're considering treatment for your child's hemangioma, weigh the pros and cons with your child's doctor. Remember, most infantile hemangiomas disappear on their own during childhood.