Definition

What is birthmark?

Birthmarks are abnormalities of the skin that are present when a baby is born. There are two types of birthmarks. Vascular birthmarks are made up of blood vessels that haven’t formed correctly. They are usually red. Two types of vascular birthmarks are hemangiomas and port-wine stains. Pigmented birthmarks are made of a cluster of pigment cells which cause color in skin. They can be many different colors, from tan to brown, gray to black, or even blue. Moles can be birthmarks.

How common is birthmark?

There are several different types of birthmark and some of them are very common. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of birthmark?

Pigmented birthmarks, aside from their coloration, cause no symptoms. Vascular birthmarks of certain types can produce significant symptoms. The identification of the type of vascular birthmarks may be difficult and require certain advanced imaging techniques as well pathological examination of samples of the birthmark. Certain vascular birthmarks called hemangiomas can begin as flat lesions at birth but enlarge rapidly during the first few months of life. They may ulcerate and disappear slowly, leaving only a scar. If this type of lesion is situated adjacent to an important anatomical structure like an eye or mouth, it may need to be treated to hasten the natural resolution.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Causes

What causes birthmark?

Experts do not fully understand why some babies have birthmarks while others do not. Most experts agree that vascular birthmarks are not inherited.

An over-accumulation of cells that make up the lining of the baby’s blood vessels are believed to cause the development of strawberry marks.

In some cases, experts believe that a tiny piece of placenta may have got lodged inside the developing embryo very early during pregnancy.

If the nerves that control the dilation (widening) or constriction (narrowing) of capillaries are damaged, there is a risk of port wine stains, especially if the capillaries are permanently widened in one area.

Salmon patches are caused by an accumulation of capillaries under the skin.

Some experts believe that some proteins produced by the placenta during pregnancy may be linked to a higher risk of developing some types of birthmarks.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for birthmark?

Please discuss with your doctor for further information

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is birthmark diagnosed?

In most cases, health care professionals can diagnose birthmarks based on the appearance of the skin. If a mole exhibits potentially cancerous changes, a biopsy may be performed.

How is birthmark treated?

A significant number of birthmarks fade away without any need for treatment. However, if the birthmark causes health problems, or if the patient feels strongly about getting rid of it, the doctor may recommend treatment.

Treatment can sometimes be painful and does not always work. Unless the birthmark is causing problems with sight, feeding, hearing, or breathing, parents need to weigh the potential problems with the expected benefits for the child. It is important to understand that not all birthmarks can be treated.

In many cases the doctor may be able to make a fairly accurate prediction of how the child’s birthmark will progress.

  • Corticosteroids: can be injected directly into the birthmark (hemangioma) or taken orally, to either stop it from growing or to shrink it
  • Interferon alfa-12: if the costocosteroid does not work, this medication may be used instead to shrink or stop the birthmark from growing
  • Laser therapy: commonly used for port wine stains and other birthmarks that are close to the skin’s surface
  • Surgery: if other therapies have not worked and the birthmark is causing a medical problem, the doctor may recommend surgery.

Treatment options depend on several factors, including the location and severity of the birthmark.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage birthmark?

There is no known way to prevent birthmarks. People with birthmarks should use a good quality sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher when outdoors in order to prevent complications.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: December 27, 2017 | Last Modified: December 27, 2017

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