The word "hemangioma" literally means "blood vessel tumour" although they are completely benign. Hemangiomas are most commonly found in newborn babies and can grow rapidly during the first year of the baby's development. They will often then diminish on their own and in most cases are gone by the age of five to ten (although they can remain until puberty). Hemangiomas are usually red or pink in colour as they are made up of abnormal blood vessels. Other names for them include infantile hemangioma, strawberry angioma, salmon patch, capillary hemangioma, venous hemangioma (cavernous hemangioma), arterial hemangioma (plexiform hemangioma).
Like many benign skin tumours, the exact cause of hemangiomas is unknown. Scientists have hypothesised that the female hormone oestrogen may play a role in their formation.
Hemangiomas can form almost anywhere on the body, including internally, however they are most common on the face, neck, scalp, legs and arms.
Hemangiomas are also known as infantile hemangiomas as they usually first form in the first weeks of a baby's life and continue to grow over the next 12 months. Females are also more prone to them and this is thought to be linked to the sex hormone oestrogen. They are also more widespread in Caucasians.