Spider Angioma

Spider angiomas are a collection of blood vessels under the surface of your skin that resembles a spider. Angiomas are red to purple marks on your skin. Treatment isn’t necessary but your healthcare provider can remove the mark if you don’t like how it looks. If you have multiple angiomas, it could be a sign of an underlying condition.

Overview

What is a spider angioma?

A spider angioma, also known as a spider nevus or spider telangiectasia, is a small red to purple mark on your skin caused by dilated (wide) blood vessels (capillaries) near the surface of your skin. Spider angiomas get their name because the mark on your skin looks like the body and legs of a spider.

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Who do spider angiomas affect?

Spider angiomas can affect anyone, whether you’re healthy or ill. They’re more common among:

  • People who have a condition like cirrhosis, rheumatoid arthritis or hepatitis.
  • People who are pregnant.
  • Children and young adults.
  • People who are malnourished.
  • People assigned female at birth (AFAB).
  • People who take oral contraceptives.

How common is a spider angioma?

Spider angiomas are common. Studies estimate that nearly 38% of healthy children had at least one spider angioma and nearly 60% of people who were pregnant had a spider angioma.

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How do spider angiomas affect my body?

Spider angiomas leave a red to purple mark on your skin. These marks can appear anywhere on your skin and are only cosmetic. Most cases of spider angiomas are benign (noncancerous or not a threat to your health) and fade away or disappear over time.

Symptoms and Causes

What do spider angiomas look like?

Spider angiomas are marks on your skin caused by enlarged blood vessels. Symptoms of a spider angioma include:

  • Flat or slightly raised red to purple dot on your skin that’s similar to a small pimple.
  • Dot has red to purple lines extending from the center (that resemble spider legs).
  • Dot is less than 1/4-inch in diameter (1/2 centimeter).
  • The entire mark disappears when you press your finger on the spot, and then reappears when you move your finger off of your skin.

Spider angiomas don’t cause pain and may lightly bleed if they’re injured.

Where will I find spider angiomas on my body?

Spider angiomas can appear anywhere on your skin but they’re most common on your:

  • Arms.
  • Face.
  • Fingers.
  • Legs.
  • Neck.
  • Torso.
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What causes a spider angioma?

Enlarged (dilated) blood vessels cause spider angiomas to appear on your skin. Blood vessels dilate when your muscles restrict the blood flow in the arteriole, which is a small tube that branches off of your arteries (a major blood vessel) and leads to capillaries (a small, thin blood vessel). The reason for your blood vessels to dilate is unknown.

Studies suggest that spider angiomas form when you have a lot of estrogen in your body. Estrogen is a hormone that helps your reproductive system stay healthy. This could relate to the increase in spider angiomas among people AFAB, young adults going through puberty, people who take oral contraceptives and people who are pregnant.

Is a spider angioma a sign of an underlying condition?

Spider angiomas are usually harmless, but if you have multiple (more than three) marks on your skin, it could be a sign of another condition like:

If you have multiple spider angiomas, visit your healthcare provider for an examination.

Diagnosis and Tests

How is a spider angioma diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will visually examine the mark on your skin to diagnose a spider angioma, as its color, size and shape are unique. They might ask questions about how long you’ve had the mark on your skin and if you’ve experienced any additional symptoms.

If you have several spider angiomas, your healthcare provider might offer tests, like a blood test, to detect liver function or thyroid disease, among other conditions that could cause spider angiomas to form.

Management and Treatment

How is a spider angioma treated?

Spider angiomas don’t need treatment because most angiomas go away over time. Children and young adults often grow out of spider angiomas, which disappear as they age. If you have angiomas because you’re pregnant, once you give birth, your angiomas will go away after a few months.

Some people choose to have angiomas removed for cosmetic reasons if they don’t like how angiomas look on their skin. Your healthcare provider can remove angiomas by:

  • Performing laser therapy, where a powerful beam of light targets problematic blood vessels.
  • Using an electric needle (electrodesiccation) to burn off the angioma.

Are there complications of the treatment?

It’s common for angiomas to return after your healthcare provider removes them. Make sure you follow their recommendations to help your skin recover after they remove an angioma, and visit your healthcare provider if your skin isn’t healing or if more angiomas reappear.

Prevention

How can I prevent spider angiomas?

As the reason why spider angiomas appear on your skin is unknown, healthcare providers don’t know how to prevent them. Studies suggest that spider angiomas relate to the estrogen hormone levels in your body. These levels elevate through puberty and if you’re pregnant. When your estrogen levels reduce, the number of angiomas on your skin will reduce or disappear. You can also reduce your risk of getting spider angiomas by taking care of your health, especially if you have a condition that affects your liver or thyroid.

Outlook / Prognosis

What can I expect if I have a spider angioma?

Spider angiomas usually aren’t a concern to your overall health. They’re cosmetic changes that your healthcare provider can remove if you don’t like how they look on your skin. Having one to two angiomas is normal. If you have more than three angiomas, talk to your healthcare provider because that could be a sign of an underlying condition that needs treatment.

Is there a cure for spider angiomas?

There isn’t a cure for spider angiomas. Spider angiomas go away on their own over time. This is common among young adults and people who are pregnant. If you have multiple spider angiomas, treating the condition that caused angiomas to appear on your skin will make them go away.

While treatment to remove your angioma can be effective at getting rid of them, there’s a risk they’ll return.

Living With

When should I see my healthcare provider?

If you have more than three spider angiomas, visit your healthcare provider, as that could be a sign of an underlying condition.

What questions should I ask my doctor?

  • What are the side effects of laser angioma removal?
  • Does laser removal hurt?
  • Are my angiomas a sign of an underlying condition?
  • What should I do if my angiomas return?

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Spider angiomas leave a mark on your skin that resembles the body and legs of a red spider. You don’t need to worry, though, as these marks are normally harmless and go away on their own over time. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have several (more than three) spider angiomas on your skin, as that could be a sign of an underlying condition.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 06/07/2022.

Learn more about our editorial process.

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