Red moles or Cherry Angiomas: Appearence, Size and Color, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment and Long term outlook

Red moles, or cherry angiomas, also known as senile angiomas or Campbell de Morgan spots are common skin growths that can develop on most areas of your body.

Updated: June 16, 2022


Red moles, or cherry angiomas, also known as senile angiomas or Campbell de Morgan spots are common skin growths that can develop on most areas of your body.
The collection of small blood vessels inside a cherry angioma give them a reddish appearance. They are usually harmless and are found on people aged 30 and older. Unless it bleeds often or changes in size, shape, or color it is not a matter of concern. These skin growths can appear at any location on the body, but most commonly appear on the trunk also known as the torso, arms, legs, and shoulders.
Bleeding can occur if the angioma is scratched, rubbed, or cut open.

Appearence, Size and Color of Cherry Angiomas:

A cherry angioma is often bright red, circular or oval in shape. These are very small in size usually ranging from a pinpoint to about one-fourth of an inch in diameter. Some cherry angiomas appear smooth and even with your skin, while others appear slightly raised.
These may vary in size and in color. The cherry angioma may be 1 to 2 millimeters in width and up to 1 centimeter in diameter. The color of a cherry mole can vary, appearing bright red, blood red, or a deep shade of dark purple. The small clusters of skin capillaries surrounding the mole create the red papule, also known as a dome.
Red moles are often not true moles but instead are cherry hemangiomas. These round, bright red or purple spots are made up of blood vessels. A person can have many cherry hemangiomas all over his or her body. These lesions are benign and do not necessarily need to be removed. They can become bothersome if raised. If they are scraped, bumped, or injured, they may bleed or become painful.
Another group of red moles called intradermal melanocytic nevi are true moles. These moles are raised and have little pigment. Usually these are found in people with fair skin, light hair, and blue eyes. Intradermal melanocytic nevi can appear light pink in color and are symmetrical in shape. They don't tend to change in appearance over the years. Because these moles are raised, they can be subjected to trauma as well.
Pyogenic granulomas are another harmless moles that may be regarded as suspicious. These rapidly growing lesions are softer than moles and bleed easily. They can be removed with surgery, electrocautery, or laser technology.

Causes of cherry angiomas:

The exact cause of red moles is unknown, but there may be a genetic factor associated with the cause. In addition, pregnancy, exposure to chemicals, certain medical conditions, and climate may contribute to the development of red moles.
Red moles are typically benign. They are often just an indication of aging skin. They often begin to appear at the age of 30 years and seem to increase in size and number with age.

Diagnosis of cherry angiomas:

A biopsy can be done which involves removing and examining a small sample of the area or the entire lesion, to diagnose or rule out other conditions. Consult a dermatologist if you notice any changes in the way a red mole looks.
It is important to have a diagnosis for any type of change in appearance of a lesion or growth. A red mole that changes in size, shape, or color is always cause for concern and should be looked at by your dermatologist. It can be difficult to determine if a mole on your body is a warning sign for skin cancer. Basal cell cancer is a slow growing and less dangerous skin cancer that can appear as a red, pearly lesion. You should always check your moles and have them evaluated professionally by a dermatologist in order to prevent the advancement of skin cancer. The ABCDEs of Melanoma Identification is a helpful guide when examining yourself or loved ones for skin cancer. The ABCDE examination of skin moles is also a way to reveal suspect lesions. It describes five simple characteristics to look out for in melanoma appearance:

  • Asymmetric: A normal moles often appears round and symmetrical, whereas one side of a cancerous mole is likely to look different from the other side.
  • Border irregularity: the spot has a border which is likely to be irregular rather than smooth, either ragged, notched, or blurred.
  • Color: melanomas tend not to be of one color but to contain uneven shades and colors, including varying black, brown, and tan, and even white or blue pigmentation.
  • Diameter: a change in the size of the mole, or a mole that is larger than a normal mole which could be more than a quarter inch in diameter can indicate skin cancer.
  • Evolving: a change in a mole's appearance either in size, shape, color, or overall texture over a period of weeks or months can be a sign of skin cancer. This may also include new bleeding.

As many normal moles and other benign lesions of the skin are not perfectly symmetrical in their shape or color, many a times it is difficult to identify a melanoma. Many spots, which have one or more features of the ABCDEs, are found as just ordinary moles and not melanomas. On the other hand even if some melanomas do not have this description but may still be spotted by a primary care physician or dermatologist. Not necessarily all melanomas have color or are raised on the skin. For example, Amelanotic melanomas have little or no color and may be confused with traumatized benign nevi or basal cell carcinoma. Desmoplastic melanoma may appear to be a thickened area of skin like a scar. Often melanoma is not painful unless traumatized. They are sometimes itchy, but this can not be considered as a symptoms for diagnosis.
If the skin changes are rapid or dramatic, the problem is considered as less serious. When changes such as pain, swelling, or even bleeding come on rapidly, within a day or two, they are likely to be caused by minor trauma. If a spot changes rapidly and then appears the way it was within a couple of weeks, or falls off altogether, there is nothing serious. However, if a new spot is identified or changing or that doesn't look like other spot, it should be evaluated by a doctor.

Treatment of cherry angiomas:

Usually cherry angioma does not need any treatment as these are not harmful. However, mole that suddenly bleeds, oozes or causes pain need medical attention regardless of the color or size.
See your physician or dermatologist in case of any suspicious mole. Even if skin cancer is not a possibility, you may want to have red moles removed from your skin for either cosmetic purposes or undesirable location. You might need to have it removed if it is in an area that is easily bumped, which can lead to regular bleeding. For example, woman may have one on her leg or another area that is shaved often, where the chances that the mole can be cut, causing pain and irritation. Additionally, a mole may be in a spot that is frequently touched or scratched. This too can lead to irritated skin or bleeding. There are several possible removal methods available which can be performed office of dermatologist. These include:

Electrocauterization:

This is one of the common option for the removal of red moles on the skin. Electrocauterization is a non-invasive surgery, which involves burning the angioma by using an electric current delivered by a tiny probe. The small probe is able to burn off a wart or mole fairly easily. Usually this is done with one visit. You will also have a grounding pad placed somewhere on your body to ground the rest of your body from a surge of electricity. This is one of the most commonly recommended methods for cherry angiomas as it does not tend to scar.

Pulsed Dye Laser:

The PDL targets blood vessels in the skin using a concentrated yellow beam of light that gives off enough heat to destroy the lesion. That light is converted to heat, allowing it to burn off the red mole. This method is similar to the electrocauterization. But this may require more than one treatment, depending on the number of moles being removed. This method is quick and is done as an outpatient procedure. This surgery can cause slight bruising, which can last up to 10 days.

Cryosurgery:

Cryosurgery involves freezing the angioma with liquid nitrogen. The extreme cold will destroy it. It is used to treat many medical issues, including certain types of cancer, as well as wart and mole removal. Mostly only one treatment session is enough for cryosurgery to work, and the liquid nitrogen is usually sprayed for only about 10 seconds. The wound doesn't require much care afterward. This treatment method is quick and effective but can cause temporary numbness or tingling.

Shave excision:

This procedure involves removing the angioma from the top portion of skin. Shave excision is an alternative to invasive surgery that would involve cutting out the lesion or growth or slice thin layers of the red mole until it is completely gone. Stitches, or sutures are used to close the wound. As it can result in scarring, this method is not recommended as often for red moles. However, it work best on moles that are quite raised.

Long term outlook of Cherry Angiomas:

A cherry angioma won't go away on its own. But it is harmless and also unlikely to cause you any problems unless it bleed. Mole that suddenly bleeds, oozes or causes pain need medical attention regardless of the color or size. As you get older, skin can change dramatically and you may discover small red moles that were not there before in your skin. The best thing to do is to keep a regular check on each mole and speak to a medical professional if it is suspicious or starts bothering you.


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