What is a cherry angioma – otherwise known as Campbell de Morgan spots?

Many people notice small, cherry red bumps on their skin as they age – but what are they, and are they dangerous? We find out what you need to know.

These days we are advised of the importance of regularly checking our skin for any changes. If you do notice anything different, make sure you get it checked out by a doctor.

However, one thing you may have noticed is some tiny, bright red spots like moles. These are most likely to be cherry angiomas.

What is a cherry angioma?

Characterised by the formation of small, cherry-red bumps on the skin, cherry angiomas are also called Campbell de Morgan spots or senile angiomas.

While the name senile angiomas suggests the formerly held belief that these spots came with advanced age, anyone can develop a cherry angioma – even babies. However, they do become more common with increasing age.

Cherry angiomas are caused by blood vessels – capilliaries – overgrowing in certain areas. They can occur on any part of the body, but are most commonly found on the torso and arms.

Although they start as a minute, flat dot, cherry angiomas can grow into raised bumps several millimetres in diameter. However, they may also remain as small flat dots.

Why do cherry angiomas develop?

No one knows the answer to this yet. Some have suggested a genetic cause, and some an environmental one, but more research is needed before a definitive answer is found.

Are cherry angiomas dangerous?

The short answer to that is no. The NHS notes: “They are not pre-cancerous and are not related to sun exposure.”

What is the treatment for cherry angiomas?

As cherry angiomas are considered harmless by the medical profession, there is no need for treatment. The NHS states: “These small spots rarely cause problems and therefore no treatment is required.”

However, should you want them removed for cosmetic reasons, there are several methods of cherry angioma removal.

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The traditional method of cherry angioma removal is electrocauterisation. Like cauterising a wound, this treatment involves a probe being placed on the affected area. An electrical current runs through the probe, burning off the cherry angioma. The patient is fitted with a grounding pad for the length of the procedure to avoid electrocution.

Cryosurgery is an alternative method of cherry angioma removal. In this case the cherry angioma is frozen with liquid nitrogen. Recently, laser surgery – particularly pulsed dye laser of IPL (intense pulsed light) has been introduced as a new way of removing cherry angioma.

If you're concerned, please visit your GP for advice.

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