Spider angioma

Alternative names
Nevus araneus

Definition
Spider angioma is an abnormal collection of blood vessels near the surface of the skin. The appearance is often similar to that of a small spider web.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

A spider angioma lesion typically has a red dot in the center with reddish extensions radiating out for some distance around it (a few millimeters to a centimeter or more). Spider angiomas can occur anywhere but are most common on the face and trunk.

Spider angiomas are very common and are especially prevalent during pregnancy and in patients with liver disease.

Symptoms

     
  • Vascular (blood vessel) lesion       o May have a red dot in the center       o Has reddish extensions that radiate from the center       o Disappears with pressure and reappears when the pressure is released.  
  • Common in both children and adults  
  • Most frequently seen on the face and trunk

Signs and tests
No testing is usually necessary, but a skin biopsy may be needed to confirm the diagnosis in some cases.

Treatment
Treatment is generally not necessary.

For bothersome spider angiomas, the lesion can be obliterated with electrocautery or laser treatment.

Expectations (prognosis)

Spider angiomas often disappear in children but tend to persist in adults.

Calling your health care provider
A spider angioma can usually be examined at a routine visit. It is especially important for adults to mention the development of a new spider angioma, to rule out associated medical conditions.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 3, 2012
by Martin A. Harms, M.D.

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