Congenital haemangioma

What is a congenital haemangioma?

It is a tumour made up of thickened skin any many thin-walled blood vessels. A congenital haemangioma is different from other haemangiomas in that it is fully grown at birth, it does not grow after birth, and many shrink much faster than haemangiomas. It may be diagnosed on a prenatal ultrasound. 

It is raised and usually pink to blue in colour with pale skin around them. They feel warmer to the touch than the rest of the body. There are two types of congenital haemangioma:

  1. Rapidly involuting congenital haemangioma (RICH) – rapidly shrinks during the first year of life, and may be completely gone by 18 months old. 
  2. Non-involuting congenital haemangioma (NICH) – fully developed at birth, and does not shrink.

How common are they?

Congenital haemangiomas are much less common than infantile haemangiomas. They occur in males and females equally. 

The commonest type is the rapidly involuting congenital haemangioma (RICH). 

Where do they occur?

Congenital haemangiomas most often appear on the head, neck or limbs near a joint. 

How are they diagnosed?

Ultrasound/MRI/CT scan.


Treatment options vary depending on the size and location of the birthmark. Observation is appropriate for birthmarks that are shrinking. RICHs do not usually require treatment since they shrink quickly on their own.

Surgical resection is the best option if there are complications such as skin breakdown and bleeding. A cardiology consultation may be necessary if the birthmark is very large and has significant blood flow through it. Sometimes embolisation (non-surgical blocking of blood vessels) prior to surgery helps control the bleeding. 

This site does not provide medical advice and is not a substitute for medical or professional care, and if you see a birthmark growing or changing significantly, see a specialist.