Often children are born with skin irregularities commonly called birthmarks. Some children develop them within a month or so after their birth. Birthmarks can appear anywhere on the skin and are quite a few in number and variety. However, all the known ones can be identified as either pigmented or vascular.
Pigmented birthmarks that are caused by excess skin pigment cells include:
- black or light-brown moles,
- oval shaped, milk coffee colored ‘café-au-lait spots’, and
- irregularly shaped, blue ‘Mongolian spots’.
Vascular birthmarks (or red birthmarks) are caused by increased blood vessels and include:
- strawberry mark (hemangiomas), and
- port-wine stains (nevus flammeus)
- Salmon patches (macular stains),
- stork bite (nevus flammeus nuchae)
While the exact scientific explanation for most birthmarks is still unknown, contrary to some popular myths associating the occurrence of these marks to the mother – such as occurrence of hemangioma in an infant being said to result from the mother’s unsatisfied craving for strawberries, or from the mother’s touching the affected part during an eclipse, or from a traumatic suffering she might have been through – it is known that birthmarks have little or nothing to do with either parent’s biological composition or environmental experiences. It is clear now, for example, that vascular birthmarks that occur in 10 % of babies by age 1, are due to minor developmental imbalances impeding normal migration of skin cells. Generally speaking, birthmarks may be caused by overgrowth of blood vessels, melanocytes (cells containing melanin), smooth muscle, fat, fibroblasts, or keratinocytes.
Most birthmarks are harmless (i.e. benign) and can, in some cases, resolve themselves over time without any treatment. However, due to the psychosocial problems they may cause during the early years of the child’s life, parents may wish to resort to aggressive treatment options such as administering oral or injected steroids, laser treatments to reduce size and/or color, or cosmetic surgery.
Moreover, in some cases even a benign-looking birthmark such as a mole, may not be left without diagnosis; an unusually large mole can be a precursor of a cancer and may require a professional examination to determine its type and related conditions. Even a biopsy may be required for any cancerous changes.
If your baby has any kind of birthmark, we highly recommend that you bring her to our practice for professional examination and a Free Consultation.