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Skin Care and Diseases

Pin prick sized red marks on skin

11/07/2005

Question:

I am 32 years old (slim and healthy) but have noticed pin-prick sized red marks appearing on my skin over the last 5 years (increasing in number) on the underside of my upper arms, thighs, breasts and stomach. They are barely noticeable, but when you look closely, my skin is flecked with little red marks. I thought they were liver spots, but I never go in the sun, and they are not brown or raised. They are red (the colour of a broken vein) and are not raised. They are literally tiny, but the fact that they are multiplying worries me! Please give me some idea of what they could be, and how to stop them!

Answer:

You have described cherry angiomas, originally described by Dr. Demorgan.  They are benign.  Their cause is unknown.  They are not associated with any systemic dysfunction or abnormality.  They do increase in number and size with age.  Some families have more than others.  Since they are benign, there is no real cause for concern.  If they become a cosmetic problem, they may easily be destroyed with an electric needle or a laser.  There are other vascular lesions with which these might be confused, such as spider angiomas, telangiectasis, etc., but your desciption fits best with the cherry angioma. 

I do not know a way to stop the development of cherry angiomas.  In my practice I simply destroy them with an electric needle from time to time.  Since this is considered cosmetic by most insurance carriers you may have to pay for their destruction with either the electric needle or laser. 

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Response by:

Charles L Heaton, MD
Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati