What are birthmarks?
Birthmarks are areas of discolored and/or raised skin that are apparent at birth or
within a few weeks of birth. Birthmarks may be made up of malformed pigment cells
or blood vessels.
Medical experts don’t know what causes birthmarks. But most of them are noncancer
(benign) and don't require treatment. Babies with birthmarks should be examined and
diagnosed by a healthcare provider.
What are the most common types of vascular birthmarks?
The following are the most common types of vascular birthmarks:
Macular stains or salmon patches. These are characterized by pink to red marks that may appear anywhere on the body.
Angel kisses and stork bites are the most common type of vascular birthmark:
Angel's kisses. Marks located on the forehead, nose, upper lip, and eyelids that usually disappear
Stork bites. Marks on the back of the neck that usually disappear with age.
Hemangioma. A common vascular birthmark. Hemangiomas become visible within the first few weeks
or months of life and continue to grow rapidly for about 6 to 9 months. Then, they
gradually lose this red color and also shrink. They are called strawberry patch hemangiomas.
By age 5, 50% go away and 90% go away by age 9 without any treatment. Hemangiomas
that grow into other organs or structures or become ulcerated should be evaluated
by your health care provider.
Port-wine stain (also called nevus flammeus). A port-wine stain is a flat, pink, red, or purple mark that appears at birth, often
on the face, arms, and legs, and continues to grow as the child grows. Port-wine stains
do not go away and often need treatment if located on the eyelid or forehead. Port-wine
stains involving the face may cause eye problems and be associated with other developmental
What are the most common types of pigmented birthmarks?
The following are the most common types of pigmented birthmarks:
Moles (also known as congenital nevi). These can be skin-colored, brown, or black, flat or raised and small or large. They
can happen anywhere on the body. Moles can also happen in adulthood. But only moles
that are present at birth are considered birthmarks. Other moles that behave like
congenital nevi can appear within the first 2 years of life. Congenital nevi can develop
into cancer later in life. Larger nevi have a higher risk of becoming cancerous.
Cafe-au-lait spots. This is French for coffee with milk. These are usually oval-shaped and light brown.
Typically these fade with age and are not a problem. But many of them grouped together
can be a sign of other health issues and should be examined by a healthcare provider.
Mongolian spots. These are blue or blue-gray spots on the lower back or buttocks. They are most common
in babies with darker skin, like African-American or Asian babies. They can be mistaken
for bruises and they usually fade with age.