What is Spider Angioma?
Spider Angioma refers to a clinical condition which is also referred to as spider teleangiectasia, spider nevus, vascular spider or nevus araneus.
This is a teleangiectasis problem that involves swollen blood vessels which are located just slightly beneath a skin surface of an individual, characterized to have a central red spot with reddish extensions radiating in an outward direction, forming like a spider’s web, thus, it is where its name came from due to its physical appearance.
It is considered common and benign manifestation of vascular lesions which is known to affect around 10% to 15% cases among young children and healthy adults.
Spider Angioma can be seen as a solitary lesion or in multiple lesions. The possibility of having more than 3 spider angiomas by a person is no longer normal and it might already be associated with a liver problem.
It can also be related to some existing esophageal varices, thyrotoxicosis or with some estrogen therapy. Some studies have shown that this often occurs among pregnant women aside from individuals diagnosed to have problems involving the liver.
What are the Causes of Spider Angioma?
The main causative factor of Spider Angioma is yet unknown, however, this may be caused by a person experiencing bodily injuries, those who are having sun exposure, those who undergo hormonal changes of the body such as during pregnancy or in thyrotoxicosis, and those who are suffering from liver problems. People with the liver disease and who are having spider angiomas are those who are diagnosed to have an alcohol-related liver cirrhosis.
It can be due to a problem in the failure to function of a sphincteric muscle that surrounds a cutaneous arteriole. The dilated arteriole is manifested as a central red dot, and those that resemble the red spider legs or webs in the lesions are the small veins which are responsible in carrying away the free-flowing blood in the system.
There are a lot of risk factors to consider which may trigger the formation of spider angioma. These include the following:
- Family history of having weak valves
- Obesity putting pressure to blood vessels
- Aging can weaken blood vessels
- Exposure to the sun
- Prolonged sitting or standing
- Hormonal changes of the body
Signs and Symptoms of Spider Angioma
The main characteristic symptom for Spider Nevi is the formation of a blood vessel lesion which can be noted on the skin. Its lesions measures to about 1mm to 10mm in diameter.
The lesion may appear to have a red dot at the center although not for all times, it can be observed to have reddish extensions which is directed from the center going outward like spider webs, the lesion may disappear when the affected area of the skin is pressed and will come back in its appearance when the pressing pressure is released.
Spider Angiomas are usually found on a person’s face, neck, upper part of the trunk and the arms. It can also be seen on the back portion of the hands and fingers of young children.
In most cases, there are no diagnostic exams required after a thorough physical examination is done by a physician on an affected area of the skin and complete history taking on the various risk factors for an individual to have the chances to acquire spider angioma.
Blood tests are highly recommended when it involves a liver damage of the patient prior to treating the liver problem. Some attending physicians may opt for a skin biopsy done to confirm the diagnosis of spider angioma.
Spider Angiomas are known to be asymptomatic and will just resolve on its own spontaneously, while other lesions may appear permanent. This is frequently identified among children with the problem, although there are chances that it can be taking much time reaching several years before it can disappear.
The problem can be gone among women who are pregnant after the delivery of the baby, usually within the 6 months to 9 months postpartum period. For those women who are taking in some hormonal contraceptives, this problem can stop when they also put an end to taking the contraceptives.
Patients who are confirmed to have liver problems and are having spider angioma at the same time, the health problem can be resolved when there is an improvement or increase in liver functions as the liver damage is being addressed or in instances where a liver transplant is done.
In most cases, there is no need for specific treatments to be done, unless it causes a discomfort or some itching on the person or for some, it is performed for cosmetic purposes. Laser therapy can be available requiring two to five treatments, with the aim to cause the spider angioma to fade and disappear.
Rapini, Ronald P.; Bolognia, Jean L.; Jorizzo, Joseph L. (2007). Dermatology: 2-Volume Set. St. Louis: Mosby. pp. 1621–22.
Li CP, Lee FY, Hwang SJ et al. (1999). “Spider angiomas in patients with liver cirrhosis: role of alcoholism and impaired liver function”. Scand. J. Gastroenterol. 34 (5): 520–3.
Geronemus, R. G. (1991). “Treatment of spider telangiectases in children using the flashlamp-pumped pulsed dye laser”. Pediatr Dermatol 8 (1): 61–3.