Treating your child's strawberry birthmark

Strawberry birthmarks, also known as haemangiomas, are one of the most common vascular issues in childhood with 1 in 10 children developing the markings. They appear within a few weeks of birth and can range from light markings to large and dark markings on the skin. They do not tend to be dangerous, but parents often choose to get them treated to avoid embarrassment for the child later on. 

How do I know if my child has a haemangioma?

These growths appear as red marks on the skin which do not quickly heal. Your doctor will usually identify and diagnose haemangiomas during normal healthy baby checks. They can refer you to a paediatric vascular surgeon who can examine the haemangioma and assess whether it might need treatment. 

What causes haemangiomas?

The exact cause of haemangiomas is not known, although they often run in families which suggests a genetic component. They occur due to a heavy build up of blood vessels in one part of the body. They can also occur after injury due to an abnormal healing mechanism in the body.

Should it be treated?

In many cases the birthmark will disappear by the age of 10, so many parents choose to leave growth and see if it naturally resolves.

However, in some cases, the growth can be in a position that impedes normal function such as a growth around the eye which can get in the way of vision, or a growth around the mouth that interferes with eating. In other cases, the child might be embarrassed by a growth particularly if it is in a prominent part of the face. The parents may choose to get the haemangioma treated in order to give the child some extra comfort. 

What are the treatment options?

The simplest option for treatment is a beta blocker gel which is applied to the surface of the growth. Often this is enough to heal the growth. If further treatment is needed oral corticosteroids. Finally, laser treatment can also be an option for treatment. These treatments are usually done by a paediatric vascular surgeon working with a multidisciplinary team to determine the safest way to treat the growth. 

If you think that your child might have a haemangioma which needs some treatment you should speak to your doctor. they can refer you to a paedatric vascular surgeon so that you can get the growth assessed and work out the best course of action for your child.