Birthmarks – What are They and What Can They Mean?

As the name suggests, birthmarks are skin irregularities that appear at birth or shortly after and may be seen anywhere on the skin in a variety of different forms.

There are two main types of birthmarks:

Pigmented birthmarks

BirthmarksThese skin irregularities are caused by the body producing excess skin pigment and may show up as moles, which may be raised and lumpy or flat.

There are Mongolian spots, which are the bluish irregular shaped patterns that appear on skin which typically disappear in the first few years of life.

Then there are café-au-lait spots or macules which are usually oval in shape and in varying shades of brown, usually darker than the natural color of the skin, which remain throughout life.

Vascular birthmarks

These are caused by increased blood vessels in the area and are usually reddish in hue.

Common kinds include stork bites or salmon patches or angel’s kisses which may appear at several sites on the body such as the back of the neck, knee, on the face and so on.

Strawberry marks also appear as a benign skin tumor which resolves in most cases, in the first ten years of life. Port wine stains (Mikhail Gorbachev is probably the most famous bearer of such as birth mark), may be pale pink to deep red in color and are caused by certain deficiencies in respect of blood vessels.

In a majority of cases, birthmarks present no dangers to a person, and require no treatment either, unless they are unsightly or disfiguring enough to require cosmetic correction. Since a lot of birthmarks such as Mongolian spots actually resolve by themselves within the first four years of life there is no need for treatment.

Birthmarks may need treatment if they are located on areas of the body that may cause disfigurement such as the face. Also certain kinds of birthmarks present medical problems – a port wine stain that is located on the eyelid is known to increase probability of glaucoma because eye pressure can increase due to the presence of the mark.

Certain kinds of moles may also present problems, particularly if there is any change in them such as increase in size, or changes in color or shape or itching or any kind of bleeding.

Birth marks can be treated, either because of cosmetic or other reasons by using different cosmetic procedures such as dermabrasion, radiation, tattooing, freezing, sclerotherapy, laser therapy and so on. The best procedure can be decided only after proper assessment of the birthmark.


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