Every parent thinks their child is perfect. Sometimes your child’s skin is not. Birthmarks are skin colorations that either appear at birth or develop shortly afterwards. Varied in appearance, birthmarks may be raised or flat, appear in a number of colors and they come in regular or irregular shapes. Usually birthmarks cause no harm. To be safe though, have your physician check out the birthmark.
Although heredity seems to play a role in the development of birthmarks, no true cause of these skin discolorations have been identified. Old wives’ tales about what a mother eats or does have no merit. Typically, birthmarks are not caused by any sort of birth trauma.
Types of Birthmarks
The two main types of birthmarks, vascular and pigmented, are distinguished by their causes. Vascular birthmarks occur when blood vessels become too wide or there are too many of them. Pigmented birthmarks develop from an overabundance of the cells that give skin its pigment.
Also called strawberry marks, hemangiomas involve blood vessels and are either superficial, or they develop deeper under the skin. Typically, they appear on the head or neck.
- Port-wine stains
Frequently seen on the face, neck, arms or legs, port-wine stains resemble a wine spill on the body. Port-wine stains only grow as the child grows, and they tend to darken over time.
- Mascular Stains
Mascular stains are faint red marks that include the well-known names of “salmon patches”, “angel kisses” or “stork bites” and are the most common type of vascular birthmarks,. They often occur on the forehead, back of the neck, behind the ears or on the back of the head.
- “Café-au-lait” spots
Flat, light brown or tan, “café-au-lait” spots got their name from their resemblance to coffee with milk.
- Mongolian spots
Often located on the buttocks or back, these flat, bluish-gray patches typically appear on children with darker skin, such as those of American Indian, African, Asian, Hispanic and Southern European descent.
At some point, most people will develop a mole: brownish areas of skin. Moles present at birth are called congenital nevi.
Most of the time, birthmarks are left alone and many fade on their own. If a birthmark is particularly embarrassing to your child, talk with your doctor to discuss any treatment options.