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Birthmarks

What is a birthmark?

A birthmark is a coloured mark that is visible on the skin, which can vary in size and colour. It often appears at birth or develops soon afterwards. A birthmark will either fade or get bigger over time and be permanent. It may appear anywhere on the body or face and is completely harmless in most cases.  

What are the different types of birthmarks?

There are two main types of birthmarks:

1. Vascular birthmarks:

These are often red, purple or pink and are caused by abnormal blood vessels in or under the skin. They are likely to be found in the head and neck area and mostly on the face. The most common types of vascular birthmarks include:


 

2. Pigmented birthmarks:

These are usually brown and caused by clusters of pigment cells. Some of the most common types include:


What causes birthmarks?

The underlying reason for the formation of a birthmark is unknown. Very occasionally, gene mutation may be a cause, for example, a rare condition Sturge-Weber syndrome appears as port-wine birthmarks. Birthmarks do not run in families, cannot be prevented and are not hereditary.  

Are birthmarks dangerous?

Most birthmarks do not require removal. Some may lead to an increased risk for certain medical conditions such as skin cancer and should be monitored by a dermatologist.  

How are birthmarks removed?

Treatment depends on which type of birthmark that the child has. Techniques for removing birthmarks can include laser therapy, which can significantly lighten and make some birthmarks less visible. The laser targets the abnormal blood vessels and breaks them up into tiny fragments that the body’s immune system will naturally dispose of. Some birthmarks may be removed via surgery. These include strawberry marks and large moles. During the surgical procedure, the dermatologist uses a scalpel to remove the birthmark. Larger birthmarks may require several appointments and are removed section by section.