The Beauty of Birthmarks
Although they're called birthmarks, not all birthmarks are present at birth. Some appear shortly after birth and many birthmarks fade over time.
Birthmarks usually are harmless, but kids may make fun of those unique markings. When that happens, the best thing a child with a birthmark can do is agree the mark exists and explain what it is. "Then the child should just start playing with those kids," says Tor Shwayder, M.D., a Michigan dermatologist. His advice for parents? "Tell them they're special and don't make a fuss about the mark."
If your child has any markings, ask your doctor to examine them.
Here's a key to birthmark type:
Brown-black moles (congenital nevocellular nevi) are flat or bumpy marks that range from pinhead to palm-sized. "If your mom and dad had a lot, you may too," says Dr. Shwayder.
Cafe au lait marks are flat coffee-with-milk-colored spots found anywhere on the body. They don't fade away. A large number, 5 or more of about an 1/8th-inch diameter or more may be associated with neurofibromatosis, a hereditary neurological disorder.
Angel's kisses or stork bites (nevi simplex or macular stains) look like faint red or pink patches above the nose or on the back of the neck. Half of all babies are born with them. They are harmless and vanish by grade school.
Strawberry marks (hemangiomas) are harmless, bright red, raised surface marks that usually disappear by age 10.
Port-wine stains (nevi flammeus) are pinkish flat patches of skin present at birth. These may be small or large but tend to increase in size, darken in color and develop an abnormal surface with increasing age. Some port wine stains, especially facial lesions can be treated by laser.
Mongolian spots are harmless blue-gray patches that appear on the back, legs or shoulders. They are more common among Asian, Hispanic and American Indian populations.