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Vascular proliferations and abnormalities of blood vessels

Author: A/Prof Amanda Oakley, Dermatologist, Hamilton, New Zealand, February 2016.


Terminology of vascular conditions can be confusing, with several lesions being incorrectly named or classified. Vascular skin lesions include:

A paediatric dermatologist, paediatrician, vascular specialist or surgeon should assess significant infantile capillary malformations or proliferative haemangiomas, especially when large, symptomatic (eg ulcerated), located on the head and neck or close to eye, nose or mouth.

Vascular naevi

Vascular naevi or anomalies are present at birth or appear in early childhood. They are classified according to the size and type of vessel. They may remain stable or become more prominent with maturity. There are various associated syndromes.


Angiomas are benign tumours formed by dilation of blood vessels or formation of new ones by proliferation of endothelial cells.

Pyogenic granuloma occurs in children and young adults on skin and mucosa, most often lower lips, fingers and toes in response to a minor, often unnoticed, injury. It grows rapidly and may become pedunculated or polypoid and surrounded by collarette of normal skin. It bleeds and crusts.

Bacillary angiomatosis is a rare opportunistic bacterial infection due to Rochalimaea henselae.


Prominent cutaneous blood vessels can be physiological or pathological (eg feeding a tumour such as basal cell carcinoma, a common sign of rosacea, and required to make the diagnosis of the CRST variant of systemic sclerosis and the telangiectasia eruptiva macularis perstans form of mastocytosis). There are some named conditions in which telangiectasia is (or telangiectases are) characteristic.

Malignant vascular tumours

Related information

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Watch Dr Amanda Oakley presenting "Skin lesion photography" at The Australasian Skin Cancer Congress.

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