Back

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:
Mole
si55550315 96472 1
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

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:
Birthmarks:
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.

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Birthmarks are usually diagnosed based on the appearance of the skin area. If there is any question of the diagnosis, a biopsy may be taken and tested. You may also be referred to a dermatologist, a doctor who specializes in skin disorders.

Treatment

Most birthmarks can and should be left alone. Treatment is generally recommended if the birthmark is:
Treatment options include the following:
Regular check-ups with your doctor or dermatologist are important for lesions undergoing treatment or observation.

Prevention

Birthmarks cannot be prevented.

RESOURCES

American Academy of Dermatology http://www.aad.org

Vascular Birthmarks Foundation http://www.birthmark.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Dermatology Association http://www.dermatology.ca

Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

References

Birthmarks. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/general/body/birthmarks.html. Updated April 2013. Accessed June 4, 2015.

Guttman C. Clinical, molecular features aid worrisome birthmark recognition. Dermatology Times. 2005;26(4):66-67.

Hemangioma information. Vascular Birthmark Foundation website. Available at: http://www.birthmark.org/node/24. Accessed June 4, 2015.

Hemangioma in infants. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated July 22, 2014. Accessed June 4, 2015.

Why people get birthmarks. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: http://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/for-kids/about-skin/birthmarks/why-people-get-birthmarks. Accessed June 4, 2015.

Revision Information