During your 30s and 40s, you might start noticing little red circular bumps popping up on your body. They look like bright red moles, but they’re actually growths of blood vessels called cherry angiomas. No one is sure what causes them, but it seems to be genetic. So if your mom and dad had them, there’s a good chance you’ll get some, too.
Cherry angiomas aren’t dangerous, so there’s no medical reason to remove them. Still, you should schedule a visit with your dermatologist when you notice one, says Anthony Rossi, MD, FAAD, dermatologic surgeon at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and assistant professor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College. What you think is a harmless growth could actually be way more sinister. “Usually we think of melanoma as being a dark, black mole, but there are other types of skin cancer like melanoma or Merkel cell carcinoma that can present as little red papules,” he says. (Find out why two types of skin cancer are skyrocketing.)
Whether you want to take the cherry angioma off or not, your derm can check it—and the rest of your body—for signs of cancer. (Learn how to check for skin cancer between doctor visits.) That’s why it’s also important to visit a dermatologist instead of an aesthetician who isn’t medically trained, adds Ivy Lee, MD, a dermatologist based in Pasadena, California, and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at UCLA. Those medical spas can remove the spots but won’t test to confirm they aren’t serious.
Once you know your spot is, in fact, a harmless cherry angioma, you might be tempted to snip it off at home.