Birthmarks (Vascular and Pigmented)

Birthmarks are colored marks on the skin that are present at birth or appear shortly thereafter. They can be classified into two main categories: vascular and pigmented.

Vascular birthmarks: These are caused by abnormal development of blood vessels. Common types include:

  • Salmon patches: Pink or red, flat patches on the face or neck, typically fading by childhood.
  • Port-wine stains: Deep red, purple, or bluish marks, usually on the face or head. These tend to darken with age.
  • Hemangiomas: Raised, red birthmarks caused by an overgrowth of blood vessels (discussed in more detail below).

Pigmented birthmarks: These are caused by an excess of melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color. Common types include:

  • Mongolian spots: Bluish-gray patches on the buttocks or lower back, common in Asian and African American babies, usually fading by preschool age.
  • Congenital nevi (moles): Brown or black moles present at birth.
  • Café-au-lait spots: Light brown, flat patches, often appearing in clusters.

Causes: The exact cause of most birthmarks is unknown. Some may be related to genetics or problems with blood vessel development during fetal development.

Treatments: Many birthmarks don’t require treatment. In some cases, for cosmetic reasons or if they cause functional problems, treatment options like laser therapy, surgery, or steroid injections may be considered. Consulting a dermatologist for diagnosis and treatment recommendations is advised.

Disclaimer: The effectiveness of treatment for birthmarks depends on the type and severity. Some birthmarks may not respond well to treatment, while others can be lightened or removed completely.