Birthmarks

Birthmarks come in different sizes, shapes, and colors. Most are harmless. They usually do not need treatment and may fade or disappear with time.

  • Dermal melanosis (Mongolian spots) are smooth, flat, blue, or blue-gray birthmarks. These are common in dark-skinned babies but may also be seen in white babies. They occur most often over the lower back and buttocks. They can be all sizes and shapes on all parts of the body. They often look like bruises. Most fade away by the time the child reaches school age. Some persist into adult life.

  • Nevus simplex (stork bites, salmon patches, angel kisses) are common, flat, pink patches that occur mainly on the back of the neck, the upper eyelids, the upper lip, the bridge of the nose, or between the eyebrows. The ones on the face are often referred to as an angel's kiss. The birthmarks on the bridge of the nose and eyelids usually clear completely in 1 to 2 years. Those on the forehead, running from the bridge of the nose up to the hairline, usually last into adult life. These can sometimes be treated with a laser to lighten them, but treatment is not needed. Birthmarks on the nape of the neck usually clear, also. About a quarter of those on the neck remain into adult life. These birthmarks tend to be more prominent with crying, activity, or temperature changes.

  • Infantile hemangiomas (strawberry hemangiomas) are raised, bluish, reddish, or purple birthmarks formed by a collection of blood vessels. They can be any size or shape. They usually start after 3 weeks of age and often appear as a bruise at birth. They become larger for a year and then fade away (involute) over the next couple years. Infantile hemangiomas are usually not treated for the first couple years of life, because most go away without treatment. However, sometimes infantile hemangiomas can be quite large and cover larger areas of the body. These often require treatment, for example, large hemangiomas on the face. In addition, treatment may be needed to improve cosmetic appearance in those hemangiomas that fade with noticeable scarring. Infantile hemangiomas can sometimes be associated with a serious syndrome called PHACE syndrome, which involves brain, heart, and eye abnormalities. Your caregiver will let you know if this is a concern.

  • Café-au-lait spots are flat, brown birthmarks. They are usually oval in shape. The spots can increase in size, number, and darkness throughout childhood. Having 1 to 3 café-au-lait spots is common. About 1 in 5 healthy children have them. Having more than 3 spots of significant size is less common. These spots can be linked to a neurological problem (neurofibromatosis). Your caregiver will let you know if this is a concern.

  • Capillary malformations (port-wine stains) are pink-red at birth and then become a darker red-purple color. They are formed by blood vessels that did not develop properly. They can be large. Light ones may fade, but most get bigger as the child grows. Sometimes, they get thicker and darker. Laser therapy is a helpful treatment to lessen the appearance. Sometimes, these birthmarks can be associated with rare syndromes. Your caregiver will let you know if this is a concern.

  • Moles are growths on the skin that are usually brown or black. Moles can appear anywhere on the skin. They may be alone or in groups. Moles happen when cells in the skin grow in a cluster instead of spreading throughout the skin. Most of these are noncancerous (benign). Bring a mole to your caregiver's attention if it changes size, color, or shape rapidly.

SEEK MEDICAL CARE IF:

Your baby has changes in a birthmark which cause you to worry.