Types of Birthmarks
Nearly everyone has a pigmented spot on their body or face that is present from birth. They can range from barely noticeable to disfiguring, and can cause a person to feel shy or self-conscious. In addition, some birthmarks can be linked to more serious medical conditions.
There are two main categories of birthmarks. The first is a vascular birthmark. These red marks are caused by a malformation of blood vessels and appear when the underlying blood vessels are either too wide or too numerous. They have several different visual characteristics.
Macular stains are faint red or pink marks most often found on the back of the neck, eyelids or forehead and generally fade in early childhood, although they sometimes remain visible into adulthood. These marks are harmless and require no birthmark treatment.
Hemangiomas can occur above the skin (superficial) or below the skin’s surface (deep). Superficial hemangiomas are usually raised and bright red in color because of the blood vessels close to the surface of the skin, while deep hemangiomas may have a bluish color due to the blood vessels in the skin’s deeper layers. Doctors frequently treat hemangiomas with corticosteroid injections. Lasers can also be an effective treatment for hemangioma birthmark treatment and birthmark removal.
Port-wine stains are magenta-colored stains that usually appear on the face, neck, arms or legs. These can be any size, but tend to grow in proportion to body size and can become darker, thicker, and take on a pebbly texture in adulthood. Port-wine stains never disappear on their own and are sometimes associated with glaucoma and/or seizures when located on the forehead, eyelids or both sides of the face. New types of vascular laser birthmark treatments are showing promising results in treating port-wine stains. This outpatient treatment is FDA-approved and is available at our office in Orange County.
Nevus of Ota is a blue-black stain similar to port-wine stains. This type of mark is usually present at birth, although it sometimes develops during puberty, and occurs mainly in persons of Asian–especially Japanese–descent. Like port-wine stains, this type of lesion can be associated with disorders of the eye.
The second category of birthmarks are pigmented birthmarks, which are caused by an excess of melanin, the substance that determines skin color. There are several different types as well.
Café au lait spots are light- to dark-brown spots that can appear anywhere on the body and sometimes multiply with age. More than one spot larger than a quarter can be a sign of a more serious medical condition and should be evaluated by a board certified dermatologist.
Mongolian spots are usually present on darker-skinned children of Asian, American Indian, African, Hispanic or Southern European descent. These blue/black marks on the lower back and buttocks usually fade by school age.
Moles can be present at birth (congenital nevus), or can appear throughout a person’s life, and can be black, brown or tan, raised or flat, and sometimes have hair growing from them. Exceptionally large congenital nevus, and, to a lesser degree, smaller moles, can be at greater risk for melanoma later in life and should be monitored by a doctor through yearly skin checks.
Removing and lightening birthmarks
People who feel that their birthmark may cause health problems, or people who suffer from low self-esteem because of their lesions, can benefit greatly from birthmark treatment or birthmark removal.*
Methods for birthmark treatment and birthmark removal depend on size, type, location and other factors. Our medical spa in Princeton, NJ offers the latest in laser treatments for birthmark treatment and birthmark removal.*
*Disclaimer: Individual Results May Vary.