Despite the name, birthmarks are not always present at the time of birth. Birthmarks are skin lesions that are noticed within the first few weeks to months of life and are typically harmless. Sometimes, birthmarks can fade over time but most are permanent unless removed. Birthmarks are usually harmless, but many people opt to have birthmarks removed for cosmetic reasons. Birthmarks tend to fall into one of two categories - red or pigmented. Red birthmarks are caused by blood vessels, while pigmented birthmarks are an area of skin that varies in color from the surrounding skin.
Red birthmarks are skin markings caused by blood vessels. This type of birthmark may develop before or shortly after a baby is born. Currently, there is no known way to prevent red birthmarks and their cause is unknown. A dermatologist from Huntington Dermatology should examine the birthmark to determine if it is of concern or requires treatment. They are many different types of red birthmarks, but the three most common are Hemangioma, Port Wine Stain, and Salmon Patch.
- Hemangioma: A common, painless benign vascular growth that develops in early infancy, typically during the first several weeks of life. This birthmark grows rapidly during the first 6 months of life, then stabilizes in size and slowly disappears without treatment by the time a child is 9 years old.
- Port Wine Stain: A flat, purple-to-red birthmark made of dilated blood capillaries. This commonly occurs on the face and is usually permanent unless treated with a laser. This type of birthmark may thicken and darken over time, and cause bleeding and psychological distress.
- Salmon Patch (stork bite, nevus simplex): Appears in 30-50% of all newborns. These marks are small capillaries that can be seen through the skin. They most commonly occur between the eyebrows or on the eyelids or forehead, on the upper lip or on the back of the neck. Usually these marks fade without treatment as the infant continues to grow.
Pigmented skin markings range from brown or black to bluish, or blue-gray in color. There is no known way to prevent these types of birthmarks. A dermatologist should examine the birthmark to determine if it is of concern or requires treatment. A dermatologist from Huntington Dermatology should examine the birthmark to determine if it is of concern or requires treatment. They are many different types of red birthmarks, but the three most common are Congenital Nevi (Moles), Café-au-lait Spots, and Mongolian Spots.
- Congenital Nevi (Moles): These can be seen at birth and range in size from a few millimeters to extensive, bathing trunk-sized lesions. Only very large congenital moles (>20 cm diameter) have a higher risk of developing into melanoma, but the smaller lesions do not.
- Café-au-lait Spots: These are light tan or light brown spots that are usually oval in shape and may develop at birth.
- Mongolian Spots: These appear as bluish, bruise-like marks and most often appear on the buttocks and lower back, but can be seen anywhere on the body. Most commonly seen in darker skin types, especially Asians.