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What You Should Know About Birthmarks In Babies

Birthmarks are spots or mark on the skin that are either there from birth or appear sometime after. There are different types of birthmarks that vary in shape, size, and color. Scientists are not really sure why they occur. While most think it is hereditary, in some parts of the world, it is also linked to traditional beliefs and myths.

It is usually harmless for newborns to have birthmarks—in some cases, they disappear with time, but for many, they last a lifetime. Some of them are better described as angel kisses or strawberry marks in babies, these spots are usually of two types—vascular and pigmented.

Vascular Birthmarks

These blemishes are formed when the blood vessels under the skin aren’t formed completely. They could be as pink, reddish or bluish marks on your infant’s skin.

Pigmented Birthmarks

They are formed from an unusual development of the pigment cells and could be brown, blue, or black in color.

Here are some common types of birthmarks.

1. Moles

Moles are pigmented birthmarks and usually appear as small, flat and round spots on the skin—they could even be irregular or lump-like. They don’t appear until the child is one year old or more—only 1 % of the babies have moles at birth. They can appear anywhere on the skin as brown, black, skin-colored, or even pink moles. Their color may darken with puberty. Though having a mole is not worrisome, babies with an itchy, irregular mole that is unusually large in size should be checked by a dermatologist.

2. Mongolian Spots

Abnormal pigment cells are responsible for mongolian spots that look like bluish or gray spot—babies have these spots either at the lower back or near the buttocks of the baby. They may look dangerous but aren’t and, in most cases, fade away by the time your kid is 3 or 4 years of age.

3. Port-Wine Stains

These vascular birthmarks appear like spilled wine on the face, which explains its name. They could be anywhere on face, neck or limbs and can vary in size from tiny, millimeter-wide spots to few centimeters long. Although it is not at all pleasing to look at, parents must know that they don’t go away and can darken or thicken on the skin. The typical wine color can be lightened with laser treatments, but shouldn’t be delayed.

4. Café au lait Spots

In French, it means coffee with milk—these spots are smooth, irregular and light or dark brown patches on the skin, which makes gives them the name. They are harmless, but don’t fade with time. The patches could be 2 millimeters to 20 centimeters in diameter and are more common in children than in adults.1 If you spot 4 or 5 such light colored patches on the skin, it could be a sign of neurofibromatosis—a genetic disorder associated with tumors of nerve tissues.2 In such a case, consult your doctor as soon as possible.

5. Salmon Patches

Salmon patches are also known as angel kiss when the spots appear on the face and stork’s bite when it happens at the back of the neck. On the funny side, it is caused by neither of the two. Salmon patches happen because tiny blood vessels in your baby’s skin expand and appear as pink patches. There are certain similarities between salmon patches and port-wine stains—they don’t grow larger or become darker unlike the latter. They are more noticeable if the baby cries. While the marks on the face fade away by the age of two, the stork bites have a tendency to stay for longer, usually life long—it still gets covered by the hair.

6. Hemangioma

Also known as strawberry marks, they may be frightening to look at as they can start by as early as 2 weeks after birth—they grow extensively between 6 to 9 months of age. However, they are usually harmless and fade away over 3 -10 years. If the patch of skin is bleeding, an antibacterial ointment and wet compresses can be used. In some cases, the affected stretch of skin could be painful or stretching the skin—parents must refer to a dermatologist or an ENT specialist for kids.

Is It Worth To Remove The Birthmarks

Most of the times, birthmarks are harmless and fade with time. Your pediatrician may suggest that you wait for months to a few years for the marks to disappear on their own. If the spots seem to be causing physical problems, pain, or bleeding, medical intervention may be advised—laser treatment, steroids, and surgery are the treatment options.

How To Deal With Situations Where It Becomes Embarrassing

It could be displeasing for your child if the birthmarks disfigure the face, any other part of the body, or luck ugly. You can begin with explaining your kid about birthmarks in a calm manner and tell them what to say to others if they point it out. If you notice someone else highlighting it or staring at it, approach them directly, but in a friendly way—tell them it is simply a birthmark, nothing unusual. Talk to your child’s teachers or caretakers about it and what he or she thinks about it. Another way would be to get in touch with parents whose kids have abnormal birthmarks and asking their approach towards it.

It may be upsetting for parents to see their kids deal with birthmarks if they are too noticeable and unappealing.  Being in constant touch with your pediatrician and discussing the progress of the mark and the possible treatment could be helpful. Treat your child normally, don’t make them appear different by highlighting it—let them know it is completely natural and there is nothing abnormal about it.

References   [ + ]

1, 2. Shah, Kara N. “The diagnostic and clinical significance of café-au-lait macules.” Pediatric clinics of North America 57, no. 5 (2010): 1131-1153.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

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