Birthmarks are persistent areas of discolored skin that are generally visible from birth. While many birthmarks are permanent, some fade with time. In general, birthmarks arise from either a concentration (or lack) of pigmentation or from a concentration of blood vessels in or just below the skin.
A Hemangioma is a bright red raised area that can occur anywhere in the skin. It might be barely noticeable at birth and then grow to an inch or several inches across during a child’s first months. Because a hemangioma brings a blood supply to the surface of the skin, they may bleed easily if bumped or scratched.
Often when the child is 6 to 12 months old, the redness will fade to gray and the mark will flatten and fade in a process know as involution. In some cases the skin might break down and erode during involution. Strawberry marks often disappear by the time the child is 5 years old. Strawberry marks on the scalp are often hidden by hair and require no treatment. A hemangioma near an eye or on the face is often treated more aggressively. Read more about Hemangiomas and Strawberry Marks here.
There are two main types of hemangiomas:
- Strawberry hemangiomas (strawberry mark, nevus vascularis, capillary hemangioma, hemangioma simplex) may develop several weeks after birth.
- Cavernous hemangiomas (angioma cavernosum, cavernoma) are similar to strawberry hemangiomas but they are deeper.
Port Wine Stains
A port wine stain is a hemangioma of dilated capilaries, and generally presents as a large red or purplish spot that occurs on the arm, leg or face. It is sometimes raised and generally persists throughout adulthood. Some port wine stains are associated with Sturge-Weber syndrome, so check with your pediatrician. Port Wine stains often respond well to laser treatment which can soften the discoloration and provide cosmetic benefits.
Mongolian spots are flat marks of various sizes that are present at birth and resemble bruises on the lower back or buttocks. The spots are bluish greay to bluish green.
Cafe au lait spots
Cafe au lait spots are flat, irregularly shaped small tan or brown areas present on the skin at birth.
Capillary marks are small pinkish brown or pink spots present at birth that gradually fade away before a child is 18 months old.