These reddish flat stains or raised growths, also called strawberry marks, are formed by an overgrowth of the cells that line the blood vessels. They may be visible at birth or develop when a child is a few weeks to a few months old. Hemangiomas occur up to five times more often in girls than boys. Many are barely noticeable; others can be quite large. These marks tend to grow, sometimes rapidly, in the first year and then start to shrink and fade. While 10 percent of babies have one by age 1, about 90 percent of hemangiomas have disappeared by age 10. Some leave behind sagging skin, redness, or excess tissue that may not go away.
These birthmarks often grow on the head or neck, and they can sometimes obstruct a child's ability to see, hear, eat, or breathe.
Most hemangiomas require nothing more than observation. But your child might benefit from medication, laser therapy, surgery, or a combination of these three. "Hemangiomas are like snowflakes -- no two are ever alike -- so it's important to have an early evaluation by an expert," says otolaryngologist Gregory Levitin, M.D., a vascular-birthmark specialist in New York City and Los Angeles.