What is Angiokeratoma?
Angiokeratoma is a benign medical condition in which the superficial blood vessels in the skin are broken. The skin presents small marks that can have various colors, including red and blue. Also known as hyperkeratosis, this condition commonly affects the elder population. The lesions can have various sizes and shapes and sometimes they appear similar to the one of melanomas. This is the reason why a biopsy is necessary, so as to eliminate the potential diagnosis of melanoma. Also, it is important to keep in mind that these telangiectasias tend to appear in groups.
Symptoms of Angiokeratoma
Depending on the type of angiokeratoma, the patient can present any of the following symptoms:
Angiokeratoma of Mibelli (telangiectatic warts):
- Red papules on the skin
- Size of 1-5 mm
- Skin becomes thicker in time.
Angiokeratoma of Fordyce (angiokeratoma of the scrotum and vulva):
- Red or blue papules on the scrotum or vulva (labia majora)
- Can also affect the shaft of the penis, the inner thigh and the lower abdomen
- Single or multiple lesions (over 100)
- In young people, lesions are small in size, of red color and with scales
- In older people, lesions are large in size, of blue or black color and the scale tend to overlap.
- Many do not present any symptoms but they are noticed after the patient scratches the skin or has intercourse (bleed).
- Wart-like papules on the skin
- Small size
- Color blue or black
- Present on lower extremities.
Angiokeratoma circumscriptum naeviforme (verrucous vascular malformation):
- The subcutaneous capillaries and veins present a malformation
- Verrucous component
- Telangiectatic lesions, the appear clustered in a small area, most often on the leg or trunk
- Their color becomes darker with time and they can also change their size and shape
- Acanthosis and hyperkeratosis
- Solitary lesion in rare cases.
Angiokeratoma corporis diffusum (Fabry syndrome):
- Lesions are widespread on the lower trunk and groin area
- Painful hands and feet
- Requires emergency medical attention and treatment.
These are the most common causes that lead to the appearance of angiokeratoma:
- Genetic cause in case of angiokeratoma corporis diffusum or Fabry syndrome, as it is also known.
- Age seems to be a triggering factor in the case of angiokeratoma Fordyce.
- Previous trauma in the area where the lesion will appear in the future is the main cause incriminated in case of solitary angiokeratoma.
- In the other types of angiokeratoma, no exact cause has been identified until the present moment.
In many patients, no treatment is required, especially if the lesions are asymptomatic. However, there are cases in which treatment is recommended, either for medical or cosmetic concern. These are the most common courses of treatment undertaken for angiokeratoma, especially if the lesions are bleeding:
- Electrocautery – the lesions will be destroyed through the use of a metal probe that is heated by electric current. This is often used in patients whose lesions are bleeding, especially when the vessels are small
- Fulguration – this is somehow a similar process to the one presented above. Lesions are destroyed and removed with the help of a needle-like electrode delivering high-frequency electric current
- Laser ablation – this presents an increased risk of infection, so additional hygiene measure will have to be taken. However, the doctor will be able to recommend whether this is a suitable procedure for your problem or not
- Excision, followed by skin grafting – if the doctor will decide to excise the affected tissue, then there will be the need for a second surgery. Skin grafting will guarantee that the skin on the operated region looks fine, without any nasty scars or risk for infection
- Cryotherapy – using liquid nitrogen, the affected tissue is frozen and then excised. This type of intervention has shown promising results
- Interventional radiology – using the techniques borrowed from the radiology field, this method can actually be used to treat the lesions of the small vessels with success
- Physical therapy – this can help after the surgery and other types of treatment, promoting better blood circulation and guaranteeing a faster recovery.
Photos, Images and Pictures of Angiokeratoma…