Types of Birthmarks
Brown pigments skin marks
Pigmented birthmark: They can be a splotch on our skin that appears in a variety of shapes (flat or elevated), sizes, colors, and appear from excess melanin deeper in the skin. Pigmented birthmarks are linked to Melanoma (skin cancer). Small birthmarks normally aren’t a threat, but be sure to watch the size and growth of your birthmarks and consult a doctor if you’re concerned. Birthmarks can be removed by laser treatments and most do not return. However, there are a few pigmented lesions that can return over the course of a year. If this occurs, you can try another laser treatment and continue this cycle until it’s completely removed.
Moles – They’re brown or black and appear in many different sizes and appearances. They are sometimes confused with lentigines, melasma or liver spots. Moles are formed when cells in the skin form in a cluster instead of being distributed evenly. Most moles never grow larger than two to three inches. If they have changed in size, shape or color over the last 6 months and you are worried about cancerous growth – we suggest getting a Basal Scrape Carcinoma test at your family physician office.
Congenital Nevi – These are brown/black moles present at birth and have an increased risk of developing Melanoma. They’re typically found in the mouth, mucous membranes, arms, legs, palms or soles of the foot and can cover a very small space to an entire region of the body.
Mongolian Spots (Mongolian Blue Spots) – These are benign, flat spots similar to a bruise that is irregularly shaped. It normally disappears between the ages of three to five years. They can appear blue, bluish-black, bluish-gray or dark brown and are found more common in darker skin types. Mongolian Spots occur during embryonic development and are mostly found on the back, buttocks, side, and shoulders.
Hemangiomas (Strawberry birthmarks, Capillary Hemangioma, Nevus Vascularis, Hemangioma simplex, Macular Stains) – These types of birthmarks are bright red, spongy patches that grow and thicken fast. They are not usually present at birth but they appear within one year of the children life. Most are commonly found on the scalp, face, chest, neck, and back. They typically disappear by age 10, but if not, they can be removed with a laser.
Freckles (Ephelis) – These are red or brown (light or dark) spots that are clusters of melanin. They can be found anywhere on the body on any skin time. The sun makes Freckles more prominent. People with freckles are more susceptible to the harmful effects of UV rays and should avoid prolonged sun exposure and apply sunscreen daily.
Vascular Malformations: From birth, increased amount of abnormal blood vessels, are very common and they can be found anywhere on the body. These Birthmarks around the eye or face can be a sign of eye or brain issues and should be examined by a doctor. Vascular Malformations are one of the most common birthmarks treated, and we do so by targeting the pigment of the excess blood using heat and light to dry it up. From there it absorbs, our body carries it away through our lymphatic system. Finally, the pigment will fade or disappear.
Port Wine Stains – At birth, these are a network of red blood vessels just under the skin’s surface appearing anywhere on the body. Luckily they’re rarely associated with serious brain or eye abnormalities, but they can get worse over time. Until a few years ago, Port Wine Stains were life long problems; but now thanks to laser technology, the majority of PWS can be removed.
Cafe Au Lait Spots (French for Coffee and Milk) – (Cafe Au Lait Macules, Giraffe Spots, Coast of Maine Spots) – These are flat, tan or light brown birthmarks that are typically oval in shape, however, they do not pose a medical concern. They develop just a few years into the child’s life. Larger Cafe Au Lait Spots may be a sign of a genetic disorder called neurofibromatosis.
Nevus of Ota (Congenital Melanosis Bulba, Oculodermal Melanocytosis) – These are blue, black, grey or brown spots in the blood vessel layer (Uvea) on the white part of the eyes and eyelids. They’re more common in Asian and African Americans. Women have a higher risk and five times more likely to have Nevus of Ota than men. Patients with an increased amount of melanin (pigment) and melanocytes in and/or around the eyes are at a greater risk for developing melanoma.
Salmon Patches (Stork bite, angel kisses) – These are dull, light pink or red patches appearing on the neck, eyelids, between the eyebrows and around the nose and mouth and are irregular in shape. They can appear a deeper shade of red when you become upset or cry. Before birth, everyone has them, but after being born, most people outgrow them.
Spider Naevi (Spider angioma, spider nevus, nevus Araneus, Couperose, Vascular spider, Spider telangiectasia) – These types of birthmarks are red spots with lines coming out, resembling a spider web. This happens when the arteriole is dilated due to high estrogen levels in the blood. Having four or more could be a sign of liver disease. Thankfully, Spider Naevi respond extremely well to laser treatments and usually, only one treatment is needed.
Cherry Angioma (Senile angiomas, Campbells de Morgan Spots) – These are bright cherry red or purple, small, round spots that can be the size of a period to a quarter of an inch. They appear most often after the age of 35. Cherry Angioma can be smooth or protrude from the skin and can appear anywhere on the body, most common on the torso. Caused by genetics, they are clusters of capillaries towards the surface of the skin, appearance is similar to looking like a blood blister.