Pyogenic Granuloma

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Images of Granuloma, Pyogenic


Pyogenic granuloma is a small area of inflammation that occurs around a site of injury on the skin. It is usually small and red and appears as a bleeding bump that can grow rapidly over a few weeks. Pyogenic granuloma are almost always noncancerous (benign), though they can resemble cancerous growths as well. Though the name suggests that they are caused by bacteria, they are actually due to the growth of small blood vessels in the skin (capillaries).

Who's at risk?

Pyogenic granulomas are unlikely to occur in infants. Pregnant women and people who have weak immune systems are most often affected.

Signs and Symptoms

The most common locations for a pyogenic granuloma include:

  • Hands, fingers, and forearms
  • Head, face, and neck
  • Lips, gums, and inner mouth (particularly in pregnant women)
  • Trunk
Usually, a pyogenic granuloma appears as a beefy, red bump that enlarges rapidly over a few weeks. On average, a pyogenic granuloma is 5–10 mm in diameter. It is likely to bleed easily, and, in some cases, can be tender to the touch. Rarely, multiple lesions of pyogenic granuloma may develop at the same time (simultaneously) at the same location.

Self-Care Guidelines

Any rapidly growing skin growth should be examined by a physician in order to confirm the correct diagnosis. Because a pyogenic granuloma may bleed easily, cover the lesion(s) with a bandage until you see your child's doctor.

When to Seek Medical Care

Make an appointment with your child's doctor or a dermatologist if any rapidly growing or bleeding growth develops on your child's skin or in the areas lining body cavities (mucous membranes) such as the mouth, nose, ears, eyes, or genitalia.

Treatments Your Physician May Prescribe

If the diagnosis of pyogenic granuloma is suspected, the doctor may perform a skin biopsy. The procedure involves:

  1. Numbing the skin with an injectable anesthetic.
  2. Sampling a small piece of skin by using a flexible razor blade, a scalpel, or a tiny cookie cutter (called a "punch biopsy"). If a punch biopsy is taken, a suture or two may be placed and will need to be removed 6–14 days later.
  3. Having the skin sample examined under the microscope by a specially trained physician (dermatopathologist).
Pyogenic granulomas that develop in pregnant women often go away after delivery. Similarly, pyogenic granulomas associated with medications usually shrink (regress) when the medicine is stopped or the dosage is lowered. Depending on the pyogenic granuloma's size, location, and symptoms, the doctor may decide that no treatment is necessary for pregnant women or for people who can safely stop or lower the dose of the triggering medication.

Although pyogenic granuloma is a non-cancerous (benign) condition, it is frequently removed due to its tendency to bleed, its tenderness to touch, and its distressing appearance. However, a pyogenic granuloma may go away on its own without treatment.

If the pyogenic granuloma is obvious, the physician may choose to treat it immediately after obtaining a biopsy. Such treatments include:
  • Scraping and burning (curettage and cauterization). After numbing with local anesthetic, the area is scraped with a sharp instrument (a curette) and burned with an electric needle (cautery).
  • Silver nitrate solution
  • Topical imiquimod cream (Aldara®)
  • Laser treatment
  • Freezing with liquid nitrogen (cryotherapy)
  • Surgical removal (excision)
Approximately 40% of pyogenic granulomas come back after treatment, especially those lesions located on the trunk of teenagers and young adults. A pyogenic granuloma that comes back (recurs) is best treated by surgical removal (excision).

Trusted Links

Clinical Information and Differential Diagnosis of Granuloma, Pyogenic


Bolognia, Jean L., ed. Dermatology, pp.1823-1824. New York: Mosby, 2003.

Freedberg, Irwin M., ed. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 6th ed, pp.1003, 1009. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003.