Birth Marks

Contrary to its literal meaning, birth marks don’t always come at birth, some others comes shortly after birth. They come in different shades of colour, texture and shape. They are usually harmless; at least the majority of it but some others may be an indication of health issues.
Birthmarks are of two forms: vascular and pigmented.
The vascular birth mark often red, pink or purple in colour is caused by abnormal blood vessels in or under the skin with the most common being macular stains, haemangioma, and port-wine stains. While the pigmented birth mark on the other hand is usually brown in colour, and is caused by clusters of pigment cells, with the most common being cafe-au-lait spots, mongolian spots and moles.

MACULAR STAINS
Also known as salmon patches, angel kisses, or stork bites. These faint red marks are the most common type of vascular birthmark. They’re often on the forehead or eyelids, the back of the neck, or on the nose, upper lip, or on the back of the head. They may be more noticeable when the baby cries. Most often they fade on their own by the time a child is 1 to 2 years old, although some last into adulthood.

HEMANGIOMAS
Hemangiomas are classified as superficial when they appear on the surface of the skin (“strawberry marks”) and deep when found deeper below the skin’s surface. They can be slightly raised and bright red and sometimes aren’t visible until a few days or weeks after a baby is born. Deep hemangiomas may be bluish because they involve blood vessels in deeper layers of the skin. Hemangiomas grow rapidly during the first 6 months or so of life, but usually shrink back and disappear by the time a child is 5 to 9 years old. Some, particularly larger ones, may leave a scar as they regress; that can be corrected by minor plastic surgery. Most are on the head or neck, although they can be anywhere on the body, and can cause complications if their location interferes with sight, feeding, breathing, or other body functions.

PORT-WINE STAINS
These are discolorations that look like wine was spilled on an area of the body, most often on the face, neck, arms, or legs. Port-wine stains can be any size, but grow only as the child grows. They tend to darken over time and can thicken and feel like pebbles in midlife adulthood unless treated. They never go away on their own. Ones near the eye must be assessed for possible complications involving the eye.

CAFE-AU-LAIT SPOTS
These very common spots are the colour of coffee with milk, hence their name. They can be anywhere on the body and sometimes increase in number as a child gets older. One alone is not a problem. However, it’s wise to have your child evaluated if there are several spots equal to or larger than 0.5 cm (for a younger child) or equal to or larger than 1.5 cm (for an older child), which can be a sign of neurofibromatosis (a genetic disorder that causes abnormal cell growth of nerve tissues).

MONGOLIAN SPOTS
These flat, bluish-gray patches are often found on the lower back or buttocks. They are most common on darker skin, such as on children of Asian, American Indian, African, Hispanic, and Southern European descent. They usually fade often completely by school age without treatment.

MOLES (CONGENITAL NEVI, HAIRY NEVUS)
Mole is a general term for brown nevi (one is called a “nevus”). Most people get moles at some point in life. One present at birth is called a congenital nevus and will last a lifetime. Large or giant congenital nevi are more likely to develop into skin cancer (melanoma) later in life, although risk is low in both. Smaller congenital nevi may have a slight increase in risk. Moles can be tan, brown, or black; flat or raised; and may have hair growing out of them.

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