Birthmarks are abnormal skin colorations in spots that often present at birth or appear shortly thereafter. They can be flat or slightly raised from the skin. They come in a variety of colors, such as red, brown, black, tan, pink, white or purple. Birthmarks are usually harmless. There are two major categories of birthmarks:
- Pigmented birthmarks
- Red birthmarks
Pigmented Birthmarks can grow just about anywhere on the skin and at virtually any time. They are typically black, brown or skin-colored and appear singly or in groups. They can be moles (congenital nevi) that are present at birth, Mongolian spots, which resemble bluish bruises and show up more frequently on people with dark skin, or café-au-lait spots which are flat, light brown or tan and more or less form an oval shape.
Red Birthmarks (also known as macular stains) develop before or soon after birth and are related to the vascular (blood vessel) system. There are several different types:
- Angel kisses, which typically appear on the forehead and eyelids.
- Stork bites, appear on the back of the neck, between the eyebrows on the forehead, or on eyelids of newborns. They may fade away as the child grows, but often remain into adulthood.
- Port-wine stains, are flat deep-red or purple birthmarks made up of dilated blood capillaries (small blood vessels). They usually appear on the face and are permanent.
- Strawberry hemangiomas, are composed of small, tightly packed blood vessels that grow rapidly and can appear anywhere on the body. They almost always disappear by age nine.
- Cavernous hemangiomasare similar to strawberry hemangiomas, but go deeper into the layers of the skin. These are often identified by a bluish-purple color. They also usually disappear naturally around school age.