Birthmarks

Birthmarks are common forms of skin discoloration that can be present at birth or develop within the first few weeks of life. Most birthmarks are benign, meaning they are not cancerous. Birthmarks can appear anywhere on the body, including the face.

Most birthmarks are harmless and will fade away on their own without treatment. Some may indicate the presence of another condition and require treatment, while still others cause significant cosmetic concerns as the child grows older. Various treatment options are available if your child needs to have a birthmark removed for any reason.

Understanding the Two Types of Birthmarks

Birthmarks stem from different causes and fall into one of two classifications. Pigmented birthmarks develop when your child has too many pigment cells in a specific area. Pigment is what provides color to the skin. Pigmented birthmarks can be gray, tan, brown, black, blue, or a combination of these colors. Here are the most common examples of pigmented birthmarks:

 

  • Café au lait spots: These oval-shaped and pale brown birthmarks get their name from the French expression “coffee with milk.” Your child can be born with café au lait spots or they could develop later in life. Children with several of these spots could have a medical condition known as neurofibromatosis that requires medical monitoring.
  • Moles: Most people have several moles, some of which are actually birthmarks. Moles are round and can appear anywhere on the body. A mole that changes shape, size, or color over the years may become cancerous and you will need to have a dermatologist biopsy it. Fortunately, skin cancer is rare in children.
  • Mongolian blue spots: These flat spots are blue and gray in color and occur naturally in people with darker skin tones. They typically fade away entirely by age four..

Understanding the Two Types of Birthmarks

Birthmarks stem from different causes and fall into one of two classifications. Pigmented birthmarks develop when your child has too many pigment cells in a specific area. Pigment is what provides color to the skin. Pigmented birthmarks can be gray, tan, brown, black, blue, or a combination of these colors. Here are the most common examples of pigmented birthmarks:

  • Café au lait spots: These oval-shaped and pale brown birthmarks get their name from the French expression “coffee with milk.” Your child can be born with café au lait spots or they could develop later in life. Children with several of these spots could have a medical condition known as neurofibromatosis that requires medical monitoring.
  • Moles: Most people have several moles, some of which are actually birthmarks. Moles are round and can appear anywhere on the body. A mole that changes shape, size, or color over the years may become cancerous and you will need to have a dermatologist biopsy it. Fortunately, skin cancer is rare in children.
  • Mongolian blue spots: These flat spots are blue and gray in color and occur naturally in people with darker skin tones. They typically fade away entirely by age four..

Vascular birthmarks occur when blood vessels in a certain area of skin do not develop the way they should. There could be too many blood vessels in one area, or the blood vessels could be wider than usual and leave a mark on the skin. Approximately 40 percent of newborns have one of these types of vascular birthmarks:

 

  • Hemangiomas: These birthmarks typically appear on the head, neck, or extremities and are blue, pink, or bright red in color. Most disappear by adolescence.
  • Port-wine stains: Also called nevus flammeus, port-wine stain birthmarks develop due to abnormal formation of small blood vessels underneath the baby’s skin. They typically start out pink or light red and later become dark purple or dark red. Unlike other types of birthmarks, port-wine stains usually do not fade over time and may become darker instead. The skin surrounding these birthmarks becomes extremely dry and thick as well.
  • Salmon patches: Pink or red in color, salmon patch birthmarks grow on the eyelids, between the eyes, or the back of the neck. Clustering of small blood vessels under the skin causes salmon patches, and they typically fade away within several months.
Vascular birthmarks occur when blood vessels in a certain area of skin do not develop the way they should. There could be too many blood vessels in one area, or the blood vessels could be wider than usual and leave a mark on the skin. Approximately 40 percent of newborns have one of these types of vascular birthmarks:
  • Hemangiomas: These birthmarks typically appear on the head, neck, or extremities and are blue, pink, or bright red in color. Most disappear by adolescence.
  • Port-wine stains: Also called nevus flammeus, port-wine stain birthmarks develop due to abnormal formation of small blood vessels underneath the baby’s skin. They typically start out pink or light red and later become dark purple or dark red. Unlike other types of birthmarks, port-wine stains usually do not fade over time and may become darker instead. The skin surrounding these birthmarks becomes extremely dry and thick as well.
  • Salmon patches: Pink or red in color, salmon patch birthmarks grow on the eyelids, between the eyes, or the back of the neck. Clustering of small blood vessels under the skin causes salmon patches, and they typically fade away within several months.

Anne Arundel Dermatology can advise you on the best treatment option for birthmark removal, including laser treatments, steroid injections, or surgery. Please contact us to request your initial consultation.

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    Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)

    Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatments help to restore a more youthful appearance by reducing the appearance of age spots, sun-damaged skin, benign pigmented epidermal lesions (such as freckles and melasma), and vascular lesions (such as spider veins, telangiectasia, and rosacea). It’s also commonly used to reduce undesired hair growth. IPL treatments can also help to improve the appearance of pores and restore a more youthful glow to the skin.

    Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)

    Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatments help to restore a more youthful appearance by reducing the appearance of age spots, sun-damaged skin, benign pigmented epidermal lesions (such as freckles and melasma), and vascular lesions (such as spider veins, telangiectasia, and rosacea). It’s also commonly used to reduce undesired hair growth. IPL treatments can also help to improve the appearance of pores and restore a more youthful glow to the skin.

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