Birthmarks

Definition

Birthmarks are colored spots on the skin that babies are born with or develop shortly after birth. These marks can be bright red, pink, brown, tan, or bluish. Birthmarks can be flat on the surface of the skin or raised. The most common types of birthmarks include:
  • Café-au-lait spots—light tan colored spots on the body
  • Hemangiomas—flat or slightly raised birthmarks that are bright red or bluish in color; often found on the face, head, and neck
  • Macular stain—pinkish or light red birthmarks that are sometimes referred to as "angel's kisses" or "stork bites"; common on the back of the head and neck
  • Moles—dark brown or black spots
  • Mongolian spots—flat birthmarks on the surface of the skin that have a blue-gray color; often located on the buttocks or the base of the spine
  • Port-wine stains—pink, red, or purple colored blotches on the skin; often found on the face, neck, arms, or legs
  • Congenital nevus—a dark, textured mole that may be covered in hair; often found on the abdomen and thighs
Mole
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Causes

The exact cause of birthmarks is unknown.

Risk Factors

Birthmarks are more common in females and in premature babies. They are often more common among people of Asian, African, Native American, and Hispanic descent.

Symptoms

Birthmarks may cause:
  • Changes in the color of the skin—lighter or darker than usual
  • Lumps or swelling on the skin
  • Changes in texture of the skin
  • New lesions on the skin
Birthmarks:
  • May differ in size and appearance
  • Are most likely present at birth or appear in the first few weeks or months of life
  • Are commonly found on the face and neck
Most of these birthmarks are harmless. However, hemangiomas and port-wine stains may produce some complications.On rare occasions, moles can become cancerous. Any suspicious, colored lesion should be examined by a physician and closely observed or removed.

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