Angiokeratomas

Author: Vanessa Ngan, Staff Writer, 2003.

What are angiokeratomas?

Angiokeratomas are small dark red to purple raised spots. They may also have a rough scaly surface. They are composed of surface blood vessels (dilated capillaries). Often unnoticed, they may become crusty and bleed if accidentally scratched or damaged, or a harmless clot may form in the lesion (thrombosis), changing the colour to dark purple or black overnight.

There are several types of angiokeratomas:

Sporadic angiokeratoma

Angiokeratoma of Fordyce

Angiokeratoma circumscriptum

Fabry disease (angiokeratoma corporis diffusum)

More images of angiokeratomas ...

What causes angiokeratomas and who gets them?

Apart from Fabry disease, which is caused by a genetic defect, the cause of other angiokeratomas is unknown.

What is the treatment for angiokeratomas?

Angiokeratomas are harmless surface vascular lesions that can usually be left alone. As the black spots sometimes resemble melanoma, a skin biopsy may be performed to rule out malignancy and allay any fears.

If bleeding becomes a concern or treatment is requested for cosmetic purposes, they can be removed. Surgical options include excision, laser therapy, cryotherapy or electrocautery.

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