When blood vessels grow into a benign tumor, a hemangioma is formed. These can occur in infants and young children and can result in pain, rapid growth, and cosmetic disfigurement. Rarely, hemangiomas may impact vision, hearing, or feeding. Sometimes, hemangiomas can even break down and develop an open sore. Propranolol therapy can be an effective option for the treatment of high-risk hemangiomas and help your baby or child feel their best.
What is Propranolol Therapy for Hemangiomas?
A hemangioma is a red birthmark that shows up at birth or in the first couple of weeks of life. It often appears as a red, rubbery bump and is made up of extra blood vessels in the skin. While they can occur anywhere on the body, they most commonly appear on the scalp, face, chest, or back.
Propranolol belongs to a group of medicines called beta-blockers and works by narrowing the blood vessels that are already formed, as well as preventing new ones from growing. Propranolol oral solution is used to treat proliferating infantile hemangiomas in infants five weeks to five months of age.
Who is a Good Candidate for Propranolol Therapy for Hemangiomas?
Be sure to tell your dermatologist if your child is allergic to propranolol or any ingredients in propranolol. It is also important to share if your child was born prematurely and is younger than a corrected age of five weeks, weighs less than 4.5 lbs. (2 kg), has low blood pressure or pulse rate, or is vomiting or not eating. Also, tell the doctor if your child has or has had asthma or other breathing problems, pheochromocytoma, heart problems, or heart failure. A consultation with one of our dermatology specialists is the best way to determine candidacy.
What to Expect During Propranolol Therapy for Hemangiomas?
Propranolol is a liquid oral solution that is taken by mouth. It is usually taken twice daily during or after a meal, about nine hours apart. It is important that patients take their propranolol solution around the same time every day. Your dermatologist will provide you with specific instructions regarding propranolol therapy, and will also answer any questions that you may have during your appointment. Treatment usually lasts between 6-12 months, depending on the size and location of the hemangioma.
Following Propranolol Therapy for Hemangiomas
Propranolol works best when it is started during the time when the hemangioma is growing (usually up to six months of age). Most parents will be able to see an improvement in their child’s hemangioma within 24-48 hours of treatment. If the medicine is working correctly, you should see a fading of color, decreased growth rate, and softening of the hemangioma within a week.
Propranolol may cause side effects, including sleep problems, vomiting, diarrhea, agitation, and cold hands or feet. If your child shows any of these symptoms, please contact our office right away, as we may need to adjust dosing or discontinue the medication. Do not hesitate to contact our office regarding questions on how to correctly take propranolol.
Schedule a Consultation
If you are interested in learning more about propranolol therapy for hemangiomas, contact HMGS Dermatology today to schedule your initial consultation appointment. Our Board Certified Pediatric Dermatologists have created protocols for our team. Our providers have treated thousands of infants with hemangiomas and are well-versed in many treatment options.
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