What is a birthmark? What causes birthmarks?

When mothers who have just given birth take their babies in their first hugs, they may experience vague and sometimes intense colored birthmarks. In some cases, these spots appear in the first weeks of life, not immediately after birth. In this article, the most curious topics about birthmarks have been compiled for you. We wish you pleasant reading.



Birthmarks are a common, usually harmless, discoloration of baby skin. Birthmarks can occur anywhere on the face or body. These spots can be of different color, size, appearance and shape, but sometimes they are permanent and tend to grow over time. Some stains disappear completely. Most birthmarks are harmless, but some indicate an underlying medical condition. In cases where your doctor deems necessary, birthmarks can be removed by different methods.



What causes birthmarks?

There are many misconceptions among the public about why birthmarks occur. Some of these false beliefs are; foods eaten without permission while pregnant or cravings of the expectant mother. Birthmarks do not consist of anything pregnant women do or do not do. However, it is not known exactly why birthmarks occur. Some are genetically sourced while others are not.



How is a birthmark formed?

Birthmarks may occur due to vascular (vascular) or pigment density (pigmented) reasons and these are classified according to their form of occurrence.


• These types of birthmarks appear when blood vessels on the skin develop differently from what they should have been for an unknown reason. For example, there may be many blood vessels clustered in an area, or one or more blood vessels may be larger than they should be.


• Salmon spots: These red or pink spots usually appear in the area between the eyes, on the eyelids or on the back of the neck. In some cultures, it is called a stork bite when observed on the neck, and an angel kiss when observed on the face. It is caused by the clustering or dilation of small blood vessels under the skin. Salmon stains sometimes fade on their own and do not require medical attention.
• Hemangiomas: Commonly known as strawberry spot, hemangiomas can appear in pink, blue, or bright red. They are usually found on the arms, legs, head or neck. Hemangiomas can start in small size and flat. Sometimes it grows rapidly in the first few months of a baby’s life. If your doctor deems necessary, he may want to treat some
• hemangiomas in your baby. These treatments are usually necessary for hemangiomas that grow rapidly and are in areas that can affect the baby’s development. Apart from that, most hemangiomas completely disappear by puberty. Children with multiple hemangiomas of their skin should also be checked for internal hemangiomas.
• Wine stains (nevus flammeus): Wine stains are caused by the abnormal development of small blood vessels under the skin. They can occur anywhere on the body but are usually found on the face and neck. Wine stains may start as pink or red and become dark red or purple in color. They do not fade over time and can darken if left untreated. The skin may also be very dry, thick, or rough in texture. Wine stains on the eyelids may require medical treatment or follow-up. Rarely, these types of birthmarks may be associated with genetic conditions.


• Pigment is a chemical found naturally in the skin and gives the skin its natural color. Sometimes an excess of pigment cells appear in an area of the skin. Such situations can cause pigmented birthmarks.

What are the types of pigmented birthmarks?

• Moles: Also called congenital nevi, they can be pink, light brown or black in color. Moles can be of different sizes, or they can be flush with the skin or in a more raised shape. It is usually round. It can be observed anywhere on the face or body. Some moles disappear spontaneously, some are permanent for life. Regardless of age, it is important to keep track of the change in mole size and shape, because a change in a mole can sometimes be linked to skin cancer.
• Coffee with milk (Café au lait) spots: These birthmarks are more oval. They are often referred to as Café au lait spots, meaning “coffee with milk” in French, due to their pale brown color. If the skin color is dark, the milky coffee stains that will form will also be darker. This birthmark can occur sometimes at birth, sometimes long after birth, even at any time into early childhood. It can grow in size, but often fades over time. Some children may have more than one coffee with milk stain. If your child has many spots, it is useful to consult a doctor. Because this may be an indication of a rare medical condition called neurofibromatosis.
• Mongolian spots: These are bluish-gray spots that are not raised, mostly seen in darker skinned people. These non-harmful stains can be mistaken for bruising. Mongolian spots typically appear on the lower back and buttocks. They usually disappear completely by the age of four.



Birthmark treatment

“How does the birthmark go?” The question is a subject that the person is curious about. Most birthmarks are harmless and do not require treatment. Types of birthmarks, such as hemangiomas, Mongolian spots, and salmon spots, often go away on their own. Some birthmarks can cause discomfort due to their appearance. Other birthmarks such as hemangioma or moles are risk factors for certain medical conditions such as skin cancer. These birthmarks should be monitored by a dermatologist. Birthmark treatments can be listed as follows.



• Laser therapy can remove or significantly lighten wine stains, making them less visible. These types of treatments are performed by a dermatologist or surgeon. The most successful results are obtained when laser treatment begins in infancy. In addition, it can be used in older children and adults. Usually several sessions are needed. Laser treatments may require local anesthesia as they cause mild discomfort. Usually gives permanent results. Temporary swelling or bruising may occur after treatment.
• Beta-blockers are oral medications used to treat high blood pressure. Propranolol is a type of beta blocker that can be used to reduce the size or appearance of hemangiomas. It works by constricting blood vessels and decreasing blood flow. This causes the hemangioma to soften, fade, and shrink. Another beta-blocker, timolol, can be applied topically (on the skin) and similar results can be obtained.
• Corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory drugs that can be taken orally or injected directly into birthmarks. It can reduce the appearance of birthmarks by reducing the size of blood vessels.
• Surgical intervention may be necessary for some birthmarks such as very deep hemangiomas or very large moles. Surgical interventions for birthmark do not require hospitalization. It can be done in an outpatient setting or in a dermatologist’s office. After applying a local anesthetic, the doctor uses a small scalpel to remove the birthmark. If the birthmark is large, it may need to be removed in sections over several appointments. Sometimes, after the birthmarks are surgically removed, a procedure called tissue expansion can be applied to avoid permanent scars. In this method, a kind of balloon is placed under the healthy skin next to the birthmark. Thus, the growth of a new and healthy skin is provided. This new tissue is used to cover the area where the birthmark was previously. The balloon is then lifted.



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