About four out of five babies will have a birthmark of some kind. Some fade away and others remain for life. They are areas of skin which are discoloured and are visible from birth or appear in the first few weeks of the baby’s life. The two main types of birthmarks are pigmented and vascular.
Pigmented: are black, brown, grey or bluish and are caused by an abnormal growth of pigmented cells.
Vascular: these are usually pink or red and are caused by the lymph or blood vessels over developing below the skin.
It is important to have all birthmarks checked by your doctor but the majority are harmless and most will go away of their own accord.
The most common birthmarks which can appear anywhere on the body:
- Macular Stains: these are caused by dilated capillary veins near the skin surface so are pink or red blotchy marks. Often on the forehead and the eyelids and usually fade by the time the child is two years of age
- Mongolian Spots: often found on darker skinned babies, these are large, flat patches of bluish or grey skin and normally are found on the buttocks and back. They have normally faded by the time the child is aged five to ten
- Cafe Au Lait Spots: these generally, do not completely disappear although they do appear smaller as the child grows. They are light brown spots that can go darker in the sun. About twenty to fifty per cent of all babies born have these
- Hemangiomas: these are raised and have rough edges and are found on approximately ten per cent of babies born. Usually found on the neck and face they can grow to two or three inches in width in the baby’s first year. When they stop growing they turn whiter too. These are common in premature infants, females and multiple babies.
- Moles: these are uncommon and only found on about one per cent of babies when they are born. They can be black or brown and often start flat and can become raised. As the child grows, more can appear.
- Port Wine Stains: these are very rare and affect less than one per cent of babies. They are pink or red and are vascular so contain blood vessels. They can appear anywhere on the body, they do not fade in time and often enlarge, become bumpy or darken.
There are treatments for birthmarks which do not fade including steroids and laser treatment. Most birthmarks will eventually fade and often disappear. If you are concerned about your baby’s birthmark then consult your doctor.
By Eirian Hallinan