One hard fact of life is that as you age, your skin changes, no matter your skin health. Of course, there are many wonderful things you can do to keep it looking younger for longer. But, with time, it will eventually become drier, looser, or more crepey in appearance. You might also start to notice more freckles and moles on your skin. One such growth that can cause alarm is the cherry angioma – a bright, unmissable “cherry red” mole.
But what are red moles? And, should you be concerned about them?
Let’s dig a little deeper.
What Does a Cherry Angioma Look Like?
In simple terms, a cherry angioma can be flat, like a red freckle, or raised, like a traditional mole. They’re usually round or oval in shape, and they are small – no greater than about a quarter of an inch.1
But why are they red?
The cherry angioma skin growth is made up of many tiny blood vessels (thus, the red color).
Cherry angiomas are sometimes referred to as senile angiomas, or Campbell de Morgan spots, and they are very much related to aging. Occasionally, they may appear deep blue, or purple, instead of red. They can occur anywhere on your body, but they’re mostly found on your torso, arms, legs, and even your face.2
What Causes These Red Moles?
Both men and women can get red moles, no matter their skin health. These little, bright red growths are caused by an overgrowth of small blood vessels in a particular area. And, the tendency to develop cherry angiomas is believed to be genetic. So, if your parents tend to have red moles, you’ll probably get them too, especially as you get older. Most people start to notice them after about age 30.3
Can Cherry Angiomas Become Dangerous?
Though they may appear shockingly red, these red freckles, or moles, are quite harmless. The greatest issue people have is injuring them, particularly if they’re in a spot that gets knocked easily. As they’re brimming with blood vessels, they can bleed easily if traumatized. If you do have red moles in places that are disturbed easily (such as on your neck, where your hairbrush could hit them), or that feel unsightly (like on your face), there are several ways to have them removed.4
It’s also important to monitor cherry angiomas, like you would any mole, as part of your overall skin health.
If any mole changes size, color, shape, or bleeds a lot, you should see your doctor or dermatologist just to be sure nothing serious is going on.
You should always protect all parts of your skin from sun damage, including your moles and angiomas. Wear sunscreen every day (rain, hail, shine; winter, summer, autumn, spring). Ultraviolet (UV) rays are always there, even when the sun isn’t. If you know you’ll be outside in the sun for extended periods, wear a hat and cover your skin to the best of your ability.
Can I Have My Cherry Angioma Removed?
If you’ve decided that you’d like to get your red mole removed, you have several cosmetic options available to you.
1. Electrocauterization heats up your red spot with a little electricity, which basically vaporizes it. This also seals your wound efficiently.
2. Excision involves your doctor taking a scalpel to your red spot, and shaving it just across the surface of the skin, and then, using an electrical instrument to seal off the wound to stop any bleeding.
3. Cryotherapy, or freezing your red spot with liquid nitrogen, is another easy option. The mole is usually sprayed for 10 seconds, and within about 2-3 weeks, it should drop off.
4. Laser treatments are best for larger angiomas. Lasers basically dissolve your angioma on the spot. As anyone that’s ever had laser for hair removal knows, it will feel a little like having a rubber band snapped across your skin. The downside of laser is that it can be quite a bit more expensive than these other options.5
None of these procedures tend to leave scars, however, everyone’s skin is different, so results will always vary. Some people scar more easily than others.
Note: You should never try to remove, or puncture, an angioma yourself, as they may bleed profusely and could become infected, compromising your skin health. Always consult your doctor.
Cherry Angiomas and Liver Dysfunction
It’s worth noting that cherry angiomas can sometimes serve as a warning for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) – but usually when present in large numbers. This is because, according to studies, cherry angiomas are seen in most patients with NAFLD.6,7
But remember that cherry angiomas are exceptionally common, so unless you’ve suddenly seen an increase in their numbers, or are experiencing other symptoms, they are more than likely perfectly normal. And, if you’re concerned, just chat to your doctor.
Final Thoughts on Red Moles
If you’ve recently discovered red freckles or moles, there’s no cause for alarm. Studies have found that at least 70 percent of the population, aged 70 and above, have cherry angiomas.8 Just treat them like you would any mole, and focus instead on your overall skin health.
If you do feel like you need to have one removed for cosmetic reasons, or because it’s constantly being bumped, speak to a medical professional about your options.
And, should you see any changes in shape, color, size, or bleeding of your red moles, always visit a dermatologist to have them checked out.