What are birthmarks?

Birthmarks are a common type of skin discoloration that can occur at birth or during the first few weeks of life. They vary in color, size, and appearance. Although most are harmless, some can indicate an underlying medical condition. Birthmarks are also commonly removed for cosmetic reasons. 

Types of Birthmarks 

Many birthmarks fall into one of the following two categories: 

Vascular birthmarks are caused when blood vessels are clustered in one area of your body or are wider than they should be. 

  • Salmon patches – are reddish or pinkish patches that tend to occur between the eyes or on the neck.
  • Hemangiomas – appear in pink, blue, or red, and are often found on the head and neck. 
  • Port-wine stains – are reddish stains that can occur anywhere on the body. They do not fade out with time and may become darker if left untreated. When this occurs on the eyelid, medical treatment may be required. The skin on the birthmark may also seem dry in texture. 

Pigmented birthmarks occur when there is an overgrowth of pigment cells in one area.

  • Moles (congenital nevi)– these range in color and are typically round in shape. Some are flat while most are slightly raised on the skin. A change in a mole over time can be linked to skin cancer. 
  • Becker nevus- hyperpigmentation on the shoulder and upper back, the skin will be darker in this area with coarse or longer hairs than the surrounding area. 
  • Café au lait spots– these are often pale brown to dark brown. This can occur anytime from birth to childhood. If you have several of these spots it may be a condition known as neurofibromatosis. 
  • Mongolian blue spots– flat, bluish-grey spots that are more common for people with darker skin. They mostly occur on the lower back and buttocks.  

Treatment

  • Laser Therapy– Several treatments may be necessary; however, they do have the potential to remove Port-Wine Stain birthmarks. In some cases, becker nevus can also be lightened through the Q-Switch or Pico Laser. 
  • Surgery– Birthmarks that are raised above the skin, such as large moles, can usually be treated through surgery. The doctor will use a scalpel to remove it after administering local anesthesia. More than one session may be required if the birthmark is large. 
  • Beta-Blockers– This is an oral medication that treats high blood pressure. As a result, it can help reduce the size and appearance of hemangiomas.
  • Corticosteroids– Anti-inflammatory medication that can be injected or taken orally to treat blood vessels and shrink the size of the vascular birthmark. 

When to See A Doctor 

Birthmarks can lead to self-consciousness and may be treated solely for cosmetic reasons at Novomed. Make sure you monitor your birthmark for growth. Look for changes in size, color, and elevation. Be sure to consult a doctor if you notice any changes. Birthmarks may be linked to medical conditions such as how moles can turn into skin cancer. It is important to consult a doctor as soon as possible to prevent a condition from becoming worse.