Birthmarks are colored marks on the skin that are present at birth or develop soon after. There are two main types of birthmarks, vascular and pigmented.
Vascular Birthmarks (often red, purple or pink) are caused by abnormal blood vessels in or under the skin. Vascular birthmarks often occur in the head and neck area, mainly on the face.
Common types of vascular birthmarks are:
- Salmon Patch (stork mark): Salmon patches are flat red or pink patches that can appear on a baby’s eyelids, neck or forehead at birth. They’re the most common type of vascular birthmark and occur in around half of all babies. Most salmon patches will fade completely within a few months, but if they occur on the forehead they may take up to four years to disappear. Patches on the back of the neck can last longer.
- Infantile Haemangioma: Infantile haemangiomas, also known as strawberry marks, are raised marks on the skin that are usually red. They can appear anywhere on the body. Sometimes infantile haemangiomas occur deeper in the skin, in which case the skin can look blue or purple. Haemangiomas are common, particularly in girls, and affect around 5% of babies soon after birth. They rapidly increase in size for the first six months before eventually shrinking and disappearing by around seven years of age. Haemangiomas that get bigger rapidly, or those that interfere with vision or feeding, may need to be treated.
- Capillary Malformation: Capillary malformation, also known as port wine stains, are flat red or purple marks that affect a very small number of newborn babies. They can vary in size, from a few millimeters to several centimeters in diameter. Port wine stains often affect one side of the body and usually occur on the face, chest and back (although they can occur anywhere). They tend to be sensitive to hormones and may become more noticeable around puberty, pregnancy and menopause. Most are permanent and may deepen in color over time.
Birthmarks Part Two to be continued…