Blood sponge (hemangioma) - treatment and effective home remedies

Blood sponge (hemangioma) - treatment and effective home remedies

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The blood sponge (hemangioma), also known as the strawberry stain, is often very uncomfortable for those affected, especially if it is located on easily visible parts of the body such as the face. To make matters worse, blood sponges usually enlarge with age. Early treatment is important if an early hemangioma is to be removed without major scarring.


A blood sponge or hemangioma is a usually benign tumor proliferation of blood vessels. The best known are blood sponges in the area of ​​the face or head because they are the most noticeable there. However, they can also occur on other organs or organ systems, for example on

  • Reproductive organs,
  • Liver,
  • Nervous system
  • or kidneys.

Around 75 percent of hemangiomas are already present at birth or develop in the first few weeks of life, which is why they also play a special role in pediatrics. In these cases there is a very good chance of a cure. About 80 percent of the blood sponges already present at birth disappear in the course of the child's later development, even to the point of complete disappearance. A distinction is made between the following main forms of hemangiomas:

  • Capillary hemangioma (Haemangioma capillare): These blood sponges make up about 30 to 40 percent of all hemangiomas and consist of capillary vessels. As a rule, they have a light red color and in many cases regress by themselves up to the age of seven.
  • Cavernous hemangioma (Haemangioma cavernosum): A blood sponge with a predominantly red to purple color, also known as a cavernoma. The growths here emerge from the cavernous vascular cavities and, like capillary hemangiomas, tend to recede on their own. However, this form of blood sponges also tends to cause serious complications, including super infections and necrosis. This is particularly dangerous because cavernous hemangiomas arise primarily in the area of ​​the nervous system, brain and spinal cord.
  • Sclerosing hemangioma (Haemangioma cirsoideum): Sclerosing hemangioma develops primarily in adulthood and manifests itself as a flexible red vascular knot in the dermis and subcutaneous tissue.
  • Papillary body hemangioma (Haemangioma plantotuberosum): This blue-red hemangioma arises exclusively from vascular growth below the papillary body of the skin.

In addition to these main divisions, there are numerous subcategories that classify hemangiomas according to their location or shape, such as that

  • Orbital hemangioma (orbital hemangioma),
  • Liver hemangioma,
  • Placenta hemangioma (chorangioma),
  • Grape hemangioma
  • or spinal hemangioma.

The orbital hemangioma arises from the blood vessels of the eye socket. This form of the blood sponge can lead to complications because the hemangioma can lead to permanent dislocations of the eyeball and also to visual disturbances. In addition, there is the so-called angiomatosis, which describes the development of several, body-wide vascular or lymphatic tumors. An example of vascular-related angiomatosis is Kasabach-Merritt syndrome, in which several cavernous hemangiomas and giant hemangiomas develop. The syndrome mainly affects women and is associated with a blood clotting disorder.

The cause is still unknown

The causes of the blood sponge are still largely unexplored. The only thing that seems certain is the assumption that hemangioma occurs when blood vessels form or start to proliferate. Genetic components are discussed as the cause, as a family cluster is known. Because, in addition, especially premature babies are often affected by a blood sponge and this has a strong correspondence to the tissue of the placenta, it is assumed that maturation processes in the womb that are not completely finished can also be the cause. This assumption is supported by an Italian study from 2014, in which scientists found that babies whose placenta already had a chorangioma were also more susceptible to the development of hemangiomas.

Furthermore, hormonal factors and various toxin influences, such as alcohol and nicotine consumption by the mother as causes of the formation of a blood sponge, are discussed.


The diagnosis of a hemangioma is highly dependent on the extent and location of the growth. In addition to a detailed medical history and visual diagnostic examination, other examination methods should also be considered. This is particularly important if an infection of internal organs is suspected. This can lead to serious disturbances in organ function, for example if the kidneys, brain or liver are affected.
In addition, blood sponges are sometimes the first sign of a malformation syndrome affecting the whole body or a serious hereditary disease. This means that in addition to hemangioma, people may have other malformations or limitations. For these reasons, it is important to examine those affected closely and not just focus on the obvious vascular growth. In addition to the medical history and physical examination, the following examination methods are available for further diagnostics:

  • Ultrasound examination (especially duplex sonography for color representation of the blood flow),
  • X-ray examination,
  • CT and MRI as well
  • Blood tests, especially with regard to genetic causes.


The treatment of the blood sponge can be designed very differently. Since more than three quarters of those affected develop an independent regression of vascular proliferation, the treating physicians very often go the path of waiting behavior after making a diagnosis. The hemangioma is regularly checked for size, expansion and growth. If there is a regression, nothing has been changed in the previous procedure. The situation is different, however, if complications occur or the vascular proliferation spreads in an uncontrolled manner. The impending complications include:

  • Bleeding,
  • Vascular occlusion by a thrombus,
  • ulcerative tissue decay,
  • Compression of surrounding organs,
  • Loss of function,
  • Depression due to aesthetic deficits

Treatment is often recommended even if the hemangioma is located in functionally important places such as the sensory organs, mouth area and hands, or in cosmetically critical areas such as the face, head or genital area. In such cases, the waiting behavior is refrained from and appropriate treatment steps are initiated at an early stage.

Medical therapy

Drug treatment is used under different circumstances. On the one hand, it is necessary if the hemangioma is in a location that is difficult to reach or not recommended for surgical interventions (for example, in the area of ​​the eye socket). On the other hand, medication is also indicated if the hemangioma is rapidly spreading or if the affected person has several hemangiomas distributed over the body. The following drug groups are used in particular:

Corticosteroids and interferons

These groups of drugs are used because they can curb growth. They can either be administered systemically by tablets or brought locally into or onto the hemangioma. Direct injections or an ointment application can be considered here. However, it should be pointed out that both pharmaceutical corticosteroids and interferons are hormone preparations that massively interfere with the body's natural hormone activity. The possible side effects are therefore very extensive and should not be underestimated, which is why both drug groups are now only used in isolated cases.

Beta blocker

Actually, beta-blockers like propranolol are drugs that are used in heart patients to treat hypertension, heart failure and coronary artery disease. In the context of this application, however, a few years ago, medical practitioners noticed by chance that sponges spontaneously regress when they were taken, so to speak as an unexpected side effect. This effect is explained by the vasoconstrictive effects of the medication and has also been demonstrated in studies. Since 2014, beta blockers have also been approved for the treatment of hemangiomas and have now become the method of choice when medicinal therapy is to be used. They can be used in the form of a gel directly on the hemangioma or act as tablets via the blood path.

Chemotherapy drugs

Since sponges are tumor growths, the use of anti-carcinogenic agents is theoretically possible. However, these drugs should really only be used in an emergency, i.e. in the event of long-term lack of treatment success or a high risk of complications, since chemotherapeutic preparations always have a number of massive side effects.

Surgical therapy

Surgical therapy essentially consists of surgical removal, laser or cold treatment (cryotherapy) of the hemangioma. With surgical removal, the blood sponge is surgically removed after local anesthesia or, depending on the size and location, even under general anesthesia. It is used when drug therapy does not show the desired success, surrounding structures are impaired or the emotional stress caused by the blemish is very high. In any case, the treating medical team should carefully consider the benefits and risks together with those affected.

The aim of laser and cryotherapy is to destroy the structural processes in the blood sponge and to cause the vascular growth to shrink. However, both forms can only be used for small hemangiomas or after previous drug therapy, as they have too little depth of penetration to reach large-scale ulcers.

Home remedies

The repertoire of home remedies for the treatment of hemangiomas is very broad. Many sufferers fall back on this, not least due to the fact that the strategy of controlled waiting puts them in a state of dissatisfaction and inactivity. Good results are achieved with a local application with a mixture of apple cider vinegar and honey. The affected skin area is treated with this mixture several times a day. Local treatment with garlic can also cause hemangioma to regress. Potatoes, garlic and teas made from oats and linden flowers can have a positive effect on nutrition.

Naturopathic therapy

Mother Nature also has a number of things that have turned out to be promising in the treatment of small blood sponges. In particular, extracts from the following plants are used here as cover, ointment or oil:

  • Marigold,
  • Cypress,
  • Tea tree,
  • Castor oil,
  • Eucalyptus,
  • Arnica.


Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Miriam Adam, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch


  • Professional Association of Pediatricians e. V .: Hemangioma (blood sponges) (accessed: 15.07.2019), kinderaerzte-im-netz.de
  • German Society for Pediatric Surgery (DGKCH): S2k guideline on hemangiomas, infantile in infancy and toddler age (access: July 15, 2019), detailed view of guidelines
  • Austria's public health portal: Hemangioma (blood sponge) (accessed: 15.07.2019), gesundheit.gv.at
  • Mayo Clinic: Hemangioma (accessed: July 15, 2019), mayoclinic.org
  • UpToDate, Inc .: Infantile hemangiomas: Management (accessed: July 15, 2019), uptodate.com
  • Hamm, Henning / Höger, Peter H .: childhood skin tumors, Dtsch Arztebl Int, 2011, aerzteblatt.de
  • National Health Service UK: Overview - Birthmarks (accessed: 07/15/2019), nhs.uk

ICD codes for this disease: D18ICD codes are internationally valid encodings for medical diagnoses. You can find e.g. in doctor's letters or on disability certificates.

Video: Infantile Hemangiomas- aka Strawberry Birthmarks (June 2022).