Child Birthmarks

Birthmarks are exactly what they sound like: reddish, dark or raised marks on the skin that show up at birth or shortly after. We don’t know what causes birthmarks; they are usually made up of blood vessels that develop abnormally, and most are small and harmless. Many disappear over time. However, if a birthmark is large and unsightly, or if it causes a health problem, it may need medical treatment.

Common Types of Birthmarks

Birthmarks come in all shapes and sizes, and can be located anywhere on the body. The most common types of birthmarks include:

  • Hemangiomas: Generally red, swollen and bumpy, these birthmarks often develop on the head within several months of birth. They may shrink over time, but if they are large and near the eyes, mouth or ear canal, they may need to be removed.
  • Moles: Moles are dark, flat or raised spots that range from small to large and can be found anywhere on the body. Moles present at birth can develop into skin cancer later in life, but this is unusual in childhood.
  • Mongolian spots: These blue or purple spots are most often seen on the backs of dark-skinned babies. They also tend to fade away over a few years.
  • Stork bites: Also called salmon patches, these small pink or red spots are usually found on a baby’s face or neck. They usually disappear over time.
  • Port-wine stains: These flat, wine-colored birthmarks may develop anywhere and often are large. They do not fade; in fact, some may get darker or even bleed.

Treatment for Birthmarks

Mercy Kids dermatologists evaluate and treat all types of birthmarks. Most do not require treatment unless they affect a child’s appearance or health. For example, a large port-wine stain on the face may be unsightly, or a hemangioma near the eye may interfere with vision. Newborns with such birthmarks may receive treatment even before they leave the hospital.

No matter what your child’s age, we offer a range of treatment options. Often, we use a combination of treatments, and may work with plastic surgeons and other medical specialists to minimize discomfort and scarring and ensure the best possible results.

  • Laser therapy can safely remove or fade birthmarks by eliminating blood vessels or pigment just below the skin’s surface.
  • Medications can be injected directly into the area or taken orally to block blood flow to the birthmark (a process called embolization) and cause it to shrink or fade.
  • Surgery can remove the birthmark.

If your infant or child has a birthmark that may negatively impact their health or physical appearance, we’ll care for their skin with medical expertise and personal compassion.

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