Doctor Verified

Expert Explains Types, Causes & Treatments For Birthmarks

A birthmark is a growth, lesion, or discolouration that appears on your skin upon birth or shortly afterwards.

Sushmita Sharma
Written by: Sushmita SharmaUpdated at: Jan 09, 2023 09:30 IST
Expert Explains Types, Causes & Treatments For Birthmarks

Birthmarks are the marks that appear on the skin at the time of your birth or shortly after it. They are usually of two types; vascular birthmarks and pigmented birthmarks. They are mostly not dangerous and disappear with time. Read this article to learn what our expert Dr. Esha Roy, MD (Dermatology), says about the causes, types, and treatments for birthmarks.

What Are Birthmarks?

A birthmark is a growth, lesion, or discolouration that appears on your skin upon birth or shortly afterwards. It can occur anywhere on your body and differ in shape, size, appearance, and colour. Some birthmarks fade away with time, while others grow larger. Most birthmarks are not a cause for worry, while some can indicate an underlying disease or a clinical implication, hence a timely evaluation is usually recommended. As in rare cases, they can even be cancerous, and a timely diagnosis can be a saviour. Birthmarks are broadly of two types: Vascular and Pigmented. 

Types Of Birthmarks

Pigmented Birthmarks

These birthmarks present as discolouration of the normal skin and may be sharply demarcated or blended with the normal skin. Common ones are moles, café au lait spots, and Mongolian spots. 

  • Moles can be seen anywhere on your body and are usually pink, brown, or black in colour. They can be flat or may appear raised in some people. Usually innocuous until and unless they appear in special circumstances with certain syndromes.
  • Café au lait spots are birthmarks that are irregular in shape and can occur anytime from your birth to childhood. They are usually oval-shaped and coffee-coloured on the skin. In some cases, they may also indicate an underlying medical condition called neurofibromatosis.
  • Mongolian Spots are birthmarks that are flat and bluish-grey and are generally present on the lower back or buttocks of your baby at birth. 

Vascular Birthmarks

Vascular birthmarks occur when there is an aberration in the formation of normal blood vessels. Port wine stains, salmon patches, and strawberry hemangiomas are some examples of vascular birthmarks.

Causes Of Birthmarks

You might have heard stories about birthmarks or how the stains of pregnant women cause them; however, none of this is true. The actual cause of birthmarks is still not known. However, one of the hypotheses is that they are blood vessels close to the skin's surface and can be caused by too many blood vessels growing in the skin or too many pigments being made in the skin.

Birthmarks With Hair?

Some people think that if hair grows out of a birthmark, it may be cancerous, but this is not true. It is normal for hair to grow from birthmarks which may be thick and dark. You can also remove the hair from your birthmark if you wish to.

Also Read: All about Red Birthmarks: What it is, its Causes and Treatment

Treatment

Most birthmarks fade away with time, are not dangerous, and don't need any treatment. You should also note that not all birthmarks can be treated. You might need treatment if your birthmark is causing problems with hearing, breathing, or other such activities. It can be treated with many methods, like laser therapy or surgery. Your doctor may give you medications like propranolol, corticosteroids, or Interferon alpha-12.

Bottomline

Birthmarks are usually not harmful, but if it grows abnormally on your body and causes discomfort, you should visit a dermatologist. Your doctor can prescribe you medicines and conduct tests; in some cases, laser removal may be an option.

Disclaimer