Birthmarks are very common, and in many cases, they don’t cause any issues. In some cases, however, you may be unhappy with their appearance or wonder if they’re any associated with any medical issues. In this blog, the dermatologists at Hollywood Dermatology & Cosmetic Specialists in South Florida explain more about birthmarks and when they can be harmful:
What is a birthmark?
A birthmark is a colored skin spot that’s present at birth or within the first few months of life. Some are only a change in the color of the surface of the skin, while others are raised or reach into the tissues underneath the skin. They come in many colors, including brown, black, red, purple, blue, pink, and white. Birthmarks can be small and in an area that isn’t easily seen, such as the back of the neck. Or they can be large and easily noticeable, particularly if they’re on the face.
What are some common types of birthmarks?
There are many different types of birthmarks, including the following:
- Moles: also called congenital nevi, affects about 1% of the population
- Café-au-lait spots: light brown or tan spots, usually oval-shaped
- Mongolian spots: look like bruises and often appear on the buttocks, lower back, trunk or arms. They’re more common in people with darker skin.
- Macular stains: very common and are faint red or pink and flat. They can be located on the face (“angel’s kisses”) or the back of the neck (“stork bites”). Angel’s kisses often fade, and although stork bites usually remain, they’re covered by hair.
- Hemangiomas: classified as superficial (including “strawberry marks”) or deep. The superficial type is often raised and bright red, and deep hemangiomas are usually bluish purple. They often grow rapidly, changing color to a whitish-grey and then usually shrinking.
- Port-wine stains: purple-to-red birthmarks often located on the face, they can change over time
Should you be concerned about birthmarks?
Birthmarks are usually harmless, but in some cases, they can cause cosmetic issues, grow rapidly, or be a sign of underlying disease.
For example, larger moles have a slightly increased risk of becoming cancerous. The presence of several café-au-lait spots that are larger than a quarter is sometimes associated with a genetic disorder that causes abnormal growth of cell or nerve tissues (neurogibromatosis). And port wine stains can be associated with glaucoma, seizures, or other medical problems.
When should you see a doctor about a birthmark?
If you have any concerns at all, you should see a doctor about your child’s birthmark or if you’re an adult with a birthmark. Your doctor can rule out any underlying problems and, in some cases, treat a birthmark with concealing cosmetics or medication. A birthmark can also sometimes be surgically removed.
If you’re concerned about a birthmark, make an appointment today for an evaluation with Hollywood Dermatology & Cosmetic Specialists. We have seven convenient locations throughout South Florida and can help provide the most effective treatments for birthmarks.