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A hemangioma is a red birthmark that may appear during infancy and typically dissolves within the first 5 to 10 years of life. They are usually benign; however, hemangiomas may be a great source of distress to parents and older children. Corticosteroids are commonly used for treating hemangiomas, with widely varying results. Another possibility, the beta blocker propranolol, has shown more consistent results in clinical trials. Could this be the ultimate hemangioma eraser?
An early study has followed 40 children between the ages of 11 weeks and 5 years old, all of whom had hemangiomas either deep beneath the skin or in prominent areas such as around the eye. These children’s hemangiomas were either unresponsive to corticosteroids or were too advanced to benefit from corticosteroid treatment. The study included a group who received 3 daily doses of propranolol over 6-month period, as well as a group that received placebos in the same quantity and duration. 24 months later, hemangiomas that were treated with propranolol shrank by as much as 60 percent compared to the placebo group.
Due to the small sample group, no formal conclusions can be drawn from this study. In addition, the wide age range makes it difficult to determine whether the hemangiomas in older children shrunk naturally or as a result of the propranolol. Based on these initial results, however, propranolol may be considered as the first line of treatment for hemangiomas. Larger studies are currently in process to more accurately determine the effects of propranolol.
Although birthmarks are often benign, they should nevertheless be evaluated. At Advanced Dermatology, PC, our board-certified dermatologists are expertly training in evaluating birthmarks and determining the appropriate course of action for each specific case. Contact us today to schedule an evaluation to ensure that your child’s birthmarks are indeed benign. Our ten conveniently located offices welcome patients from Queens, Long Island (Albertson, West Islip, Commack, East Setauket), New York City, Westchester County, Bergen County, NJ, Union County, NJ, and all surrounding areas.