What are these things growing on me? Part 1 – Red Bumps on the Trunk

Rose is a 47 year old female here today in my office for red spots on her chest. The medical assistant brings her back to the exam room and asks her: “What are your concerns today Rose?”

Rose responds: “I would like to have someone look at the red spots on my chest.” The medical assistant directs Rose to change into a gown for a full body skin exam so we can examine her areas of concern.

After she changes into her gown, I, Amy Jones, PA-C, enter the exam room and introduce myself: Hi my name is Amy, a Physician Assistant. I understand you are here today because of red spots on your chest, is that correct?”

Rose: “ I have had these red dots on my chest for over a year, they aren’t going away and I seem to be getting more of them every year. What are they, why do I have them, and how can I get rid of them?”

She points out about 4 small bright red bumps on her chest from the size of a pencil point to a few millimeters in diameter. During her exam, I notice there are about 10 more of the same kind of “red spots” on her arms and back.

Angiomas are one of the most common things a dermatology provider will see in the office on a skin exam. Rose’s angiomas are called cherry angiomas which are growths derived from small red blood vessel cells. There are many types of angiomas which include spider angiomas and venous lakes.

Cherry angiomas are benign and increase in number usually after the age of 40. It really is unclear what causes them. Pregnancy and other medical conditions can make you more prone to getting them. One study showed that 75% of people over 75 years old have them. Sometimes they are labeled senile angiomas. Not many people love this term so I don’t use this, especially as I approach 40 years old!

The majority of angiomas are harmless. However, they may be in areas of cosmetic concern or they may itch or bleed, if they are in a location that is prone to trauma. If there is a mole or spot that is red and changing or growing, it is recommended that you call your doctor to rule out a skin cancer. It is also recommended to see your doctor once a year for a skin cancer screening.

If you do find that you prefer to treat or get rid of the angiomas because they are not cosmetically appealing, there are various methods we can use to treat them such as freezing, light cautery or with a vascular laser. Make an appointment and we can point you in the right direction and pick the best method for you.

Come back for Part 2- “Where did all these brown crusty spots come from and why do I now look like my Great Aunt Betty?”

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