Despite the name, birthmarks are not always present at the time of birth. Certain types may appear when an infant is several weeks old. Sometimes they fade over time but most are permanent unless removed. They are usually harmless, but many people opt to have birthmarks removed for cosmetic reasons. There are several types of birthmarks, which are classified as either vascular or pigmented.
These are caused by clusters of tiny vessels near the surface. Blood showing through the skin creates reddish or pinkish areas. Some of the most common vascular birthmarks include:
- Port wine stains – These marks are usually seen on the face and tend to increase in size as a child grows. The color is similar to that of red wine; hence the name.
- Hemangiomas – These usually develop after birth and may increase in size for about a year. On the surface of the skin, they form a raised, red area. Deeper hemangiomas cause a bulge in the skin and usually appear purplish in color. Most hemangiomas flatten by the time a child reaches age ten, but a mark may remain.
- Salmon patches – The most common type of birthmark, these are flat and may be pink, red, or salmon in color.
These marks are caused by an excess accumulation of pigment, the substance that gives skin its coloring. The most common types of pigmented birthmarks include:
- Café au lait spots – Named after the coloring of the popular French coffee-and-milk beverage, these marks range from light to very dark brown. They may lighten over time, but they typically do not completely disappear on their own.
- Mongolian spots – These bluish gray areas are usually on the buttocks or back area of infants with dark skin.
- Moles – If present at the time of birth, a mole is considered a birthmark. Those that develop later in life are not considered birthmarks.
Infants with vascular birthmarks, especially located in sensitive areas such as around the eyes, should be evaluated by a dermatologist. However, the vast majority of birthmarks do not pose a medical risk. If you wish to have them removed for cosmetic reasons we have a number of excellent solutions.
The best treatment depends on the type of birthmark and other unique factors. We will perform an examination before making recommendations.