“What is that on her eye?” “What’s that red thing on her face?” “What’s that?” “Oh, no! What happened to her eye?”
These are all questions that I have faced from public strangers (usually kids) regarding that funny, little red bump directly over my daughter’s left eye. I am questioned about it enough that I figured I’d write a post explaining just what it is. 🙂 My answer will normally depend on several factors – who’s asking, where we are, what else is going on, and how much time I have to explain. For example, if I’m rushing to the bathroom to change her, or a very small child (who likely won’t understand the full explanation) asks, then I usually don’t take the time to explain everything and just say that most people call it a strawberry or angel kiss & that it’s a birthmark. However, if I have the time and the child is older (or an adult asks), I’ll tell them that it’s called a strawberry & explain exactly what it is. Sometimes parents answer their child’s question before I have a chance to, telling their child it’s a birthmark, and I just agree with them. Keeps things simple. 🙂 After all, that’s what I always called my strawberry. It’s my birthmark.
Essentially, that is exactly what it is, when it’s on the skin. A “vascular birthmark”. It is called a hemangioma and is a group of extra blood vessels. It grows throughout the first year of life and is usually gone by the time the child is ten. There are several versions of hemangiomas, including internal that can grow on your organs, bones, or muscles. Generally, hemangiomas of the skin do not require any medical treatment, unless they grow in such a way that they inhibit vision, breathing, or eating; OR if there are multiples or they are very large/fast growing. They are usually NOT visible at birth but grow over time. If your child has multiple skin hemangiomas, then your doctor will probably want to check for internal hemangiomas (which may (probably) require medical intervention). I *think* hemangiomas are genetic, as I had one, numerous cousins have had them, my daughter has one, and both of my nieces had one. (Update: According to my research, they are NOT genetic, but tell that to my family.)
So, now you know just what that thing is on my daughter’s eye & you’ll know what it is if you happen to notice one on anyone else. 🙂 It seems to have stopped growing and we won’t need to worry about it unless it grows large enough to hit the optical nerve directly beneath it, which would mean that she wouldn’t be able to open her eye. If you’d like more in depth information about hemangiomas, I’ve included some links below. Feel free to check them out!!
Interesting tidbit – in some cultures hemangiomas are considered a sign of royalty! 🙂 I always knew we were a couple of princesses. 😉