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Spider telangiectasias are fairly common and look like little red lines on a child's skin. They are usually nothing more than a cosmetic problem.

  • They form as a result of abnormal blood vessels (a.k.a. a vascular anomaly).
  • Spider telangiectasias don’t cause any health problems.
  • These lesions can be treated with pulsed dye laser.

Spider Telangiectasias | Symptoms & Causes

What are the symptoms of spider telangiectasias?

Spider telangiectasias are generally cosmetic and do not cause any medical symptoms or health problems. Infrequently, they may grow, cause pain or bleed.

The hallmark little red lines of spider telangiectasias can appear anywhere on your child’s body, though they often show up on the face.

What causes spider telangiectasias?

No one knows what causes spider telangiectasias. They’re pretty common and often appear in adults as well. 

Spider Telangiectasias | Diagnosis & Treatments

How are spider telangiectasias diagnosed?

If you believe that your child may have spider telangiectasias, the first step to making a diagnosis is a complete medical history and thorough physical exam. That initial exam generally provides enough information to diagnose and confirm spider telangiectasias.

When should I consult a vascular anomalies specialist?

We advise consulting a vascular anomalies specialist in a few situations:

  • if your child’s spider telangiectasias seem to be growing
  • if your child has any pain or bleeding from the spider telangiectasias

How are spider telangiectasias treated?

Spider telangiectasias can be left untreated, or they can be eliminated with simple laser therapy.

A device called a pulsed dye laser can destroy these abnormal blood vessels. Pulsed dye laser is the gold standard of treatment for spider telangiectasias because it’s highly effective, doesn't damage the surrounding skin and rarely causes scarring. Your child's doctor can further explain pulsed dye laser therapy and its side effects.

Also, should it be necessary to monitor your child's spider telangiectasias, your doctor will work with you to develop an appropriate follow-up care plan.

What is the long-term outlook for children with spider telangiectasias?

Spider telangiectasias don't pose any health problems for your child. The only decision you’ll need to make is whether you’d like your child to have laser therapy to eliminate them. Many parents decide not to treat them at all, and even after treatment, new spider telangiectasias can appear at any time.

As your child gets older, she may be uncomfortable with the marks, especially if they’re in a prominent location, such as her face. Our counselors can help your child deal with any concerns or discomfort related to the appearance of spider telangiectasias.

How we approach spider telangiectasias

The Vascular Anomalies Center at Boston Children's is committed to providing you with a safe, comfortable and child-friendly atmosphere with:

  • specialized physicians with expertise in treating spider telangiectasias in children of all ages
  • certified technologists with years of experience working with children and teens
  • top-of-the-line equipment that’s safe and effective for children

The VAC takes an interdisciplinary approach to care with every child they see, whether the patient is initially reviewed at our conference or seen in clinic. It's not uncommon for children on their first visit to the clinic to be evaluated by a whole VAC team at the same time. From there, the team works with you to develop and carry out a comprehensive and coordinated care plan that matches your child's specific needs. The team brings the expertise of other Boston Children's departments and services as necessary to provide your child with the best care.

Spider Telangiectasias | Research & Clinical Trials

At Boston Children's Hospital, we’re known for our science-driven approach. We’re home to the world's most extensive pediatric hospital research enterprise; and we partner with elite health care and biotech organizations around the globe.

Our Vascular Anomalies Center (VAC) conducts research that may lead to the development of new, more effective therapies for spider telangiectasias and perhaps ultimately result in ways to prevent these anomalies. The VAC has generated an extensive case database on vascular anomalies. As our database grows, it will help shine more light on spider telangiectasias and other vascular anomalies.

Spider telangiectasias: Reviewed by Marilyn Liang, MD
© Boston Children's Hospital, 2015

Spider Telangiectasias | Programs & Services