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What is a Birthmark? ………By Midwife Ebony

Birthmarks may be present at birth or develop shortly after. They can generally be divided into two groups: pigmented birthmarks and vascular birthmarks. This information is very general, but we hope it gives you an idea of what to expect if you see these spots/marks on your baby. Most importantly, be assured that they are harmless, if not always wanted.

Pigmented birthmarks include: Moles, Cafe-au-lait macules, and Mongolian spots. Pigment is just another word for colour. Pigmented birthmarks occur when you have more pigment in one part of your skin then the rest.

Vascular birthmarks include: Stork bites, Haemangioma (strawberry or deep) and Port Wine Stains. These occur when a group of extra blood vessels come together and can be seen in the skin.

Pigmented Birthmarks

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Cafe-au-lait Birthmark

Café-au-lait spots– This is an evenly pigmented patch that can range from 1mm up to around 20cm or more. Its colour may appear light brown or like ‘coffee with milk’. They can be present at birth but not always physically seen, or they can manifest within the first few years of life. They commonly appear on the torso.

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Mongolian Spot Birthmark

Mongolian spots: These types of spots are blue-black in colour and commonly appear on the back or bottom of babies with darker skin. They usually fade slowly over the first few years of life, and generally by puberty.

Vascular Birthmarks

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Stork Bite Birthmark

Stork bites: These marks are small, flat and pink or red in colour. They commonly appear on the eyelids and at the bottom of a baby’s neck disappearing in a few weeks.

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Haemangioma Birthmark

Haemangioma: There are two types of haemangioma; Strawberry and Deep. Strawberry haemangioma are the ones that are on top of the skin, and bright red in colour. They have clear edges, which may get bigger over the first 6 months, then gradually decrease, usually disappearing by 6-10 years of age. They can look scary but are generally harmless; treatment is only needed if it is near a baby’s eye or causing discomfort.

Deep haemangioma are exactly that, deep, in your skin. They are blue-purple and make the skin bulge out.

Most haemangioma will disappear without treatment, leaving minimal or no visible marks. The most frequent complaints however stem from psychosocial complications, if the condition affects the child’s appearance, provoking attention. There are many support services available, so seek advice from your paediatrician.

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Port Wine Stain Birthmark

Port wine stains: These marks are the colour of wine or grape juice, deep purple, red or pink. They often appear on the face. While these marks are harmless, they are generally permanent and can get bigger and bigger as the child grows. Modern laser technology can be a solution if you’re looking for cosmetic results. You should again seek advice firstly from your paediatrician or GP.

I hope this has given you some insight into what marks you may find on your baby. Remember that he or she is still your precious perfect someone special, and any marks are what makes your child unique.

Ebony

(This article contains general information only and is not intended to replace advice from a health professional. All information is written from the experience and knowledge of the person writing the post).