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Birth Marks

Markings on the your baby’s skin although they are usually referred to as Birth Marks can also appear a little later down the line.  Some of the markings will fade or disappear whereas others can be permanent.  They can be classified as Vascular (blood capillaries), Melanocytic (mole like) or Pigmented (area of skin colour change).   Some can also be inherited and may be similar to markings on other family members.  There are few different types:

Salmon Patches or 'Stork Bites'

These show over an area which people believe that a stork supposedly would carry a stork in its beak and referred to some as ‘Angel Kisses’.  They are the most common type of birthmark and are light to deep pink in colour and most common on the nose bridge, lower forehead, upper eyelids, back of the head or neck.  Typically they will fade over the next few months to years but may reappear again later in life with flushing.

Slate Gray Nevus or 'Mongolian Spot'

This is characterised by a grey sometimes bluish or blue/green areas of discolouration from birth or shortly after and can vary in shape from round, oval or irregular.   They are most common in the lower back and around the sacrum and buttocks. Occasionally in the shoulder area.   It is due to some melanocytes still actively producing melanin in that area and commonly fade by 1 year rarely persisting after 6 years old.  Studies have shown the likelihood of these birth marks is according to ethnicity:

    • 81-100% of Asian populations
    • 95.5-96% of Black populations
    • 46.3-70.1% of Hispanic populations
    • 9.6% of White populations

There is no treatment required for this type of birthmark and only in cases later in life the birthmark is still present and the person chooses to pursue cosmetic treatment then laser is an option.

Capillary Hemangiomas or 'Strawberry Marks'

Capillary Hemangiomas are often referred to as ‘Strawberry Marks’ as they are red and can have a similar shape and size to a strawberry.  They usually start off pale and then can become redder and in some cases raised later as the first year continues.  They usually then start to fade and majority disappear by school age.  No treatment is necessary.

Port Wine Stain

Port Wine Stain is given this name from the colour being similar to the colour of port wine ie. red purple.  The marks are large and flat and irregularly shaped and can be anywhere on the body but more common on the face, neck, scalp, arms or legs.  They usually start a lighter shade of red/purple and are smooth and then can become darker and thicker later on.  They are caused by extra blood vessels beneath the skin and harmless without problems and pain unless they are near to the eye and will need to be reviewed by a Doctor.

This type of birthmark does not disappear by itself and may not be a big deal and just part of who they are.   But in some cases if they become darker or in an obvious place a parent may wish to seek treatment to help the appearance.  In this case a Dermatologist of Plastic Surgeon can advise on a ‘pulsed dye laser’ treatment which can significantly reduce the birthmark and in some cases help it disappear completely.  The success of this treatment is higher if started earlier in infancy when the stain and blood vessels are smaller therefore much easier to treat.    For Port Wine stains that become bumpy, thick or raised there are types of laser that can help.

Chua R & Pico J (2023) Dermal Melanocytosis. Stat Pearls https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK557408/

Port Wine Stains https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/port-wine-stains.html

Snyder K & Voelckers A (2024) Newborn Skin.  American Family Physician. Part II. Birthmarks.  109 (3) 217-221 https://www.aafp.org/pubs/afp/issues/2024/0300/newborn-skin-birthmarks.html

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