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Skin Problems & Treatments Health Center

Cosmetic Procedures, Birthmarks, and Other Abnormal Skin Pigmentation

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Skin is just like the humans who wear it: It's not perfect. In a perfect world, the skin would be evenly pigmented (have even tone) without discolorations.

But that's not the case. There are birthmarks and other pigmentation disorders that affect many people. We've included some of the most common pigmentation problems here.

Remember: never self-diagnose! If you think you have one of these skin pigmentation abnormalities, make sure you visit a doctor to receive an official diagnosis.

Birthmarks

As might be expected, this type of abnormal skin coloration will appear at birth or in just a few weeks following birth. It's important to remember that most birthmarks are noncancerous, though a doctor should examine your child if he or she is born with abnormally colored skin or develops birthmarks shortly after birth. Certain birthmarks described below can pose health risks.

Pigmented Birthmarks

Most pigmented birthmarks will be flat and smooth and may range in color from white to tan to blue.  There are several types of pigmented birthmarks, including Mongolian spots -- bruised or bluish in color, typically appearing on buttocks; cafe-au-lait spots -- light brown; and typical moles that appear at birth, which are also called congenital nevi.  Moles should be monitored for bleeding, color, shape, or size changes, or itching or bleeding.

Macular Stains

These are a type of birthmark that may appear anywhere on the body as a light red, flat marks.  Macular stains are the most common type of vascular (developing from blood vessels) birthmark. These marks can come in two forms known commonly as angel’s kisses or stork bites.

  • Angel's kisses may appear on the forehead and eyelids, but will typically disappear early in childhood.
  • Stork bites will appear on the back of the neck and can last into adult years.

Because these marks are often mild, there is no treatment necessary.

Hemangioma

Hemangiomas are caused by many tiny blood vessels bunched together and are raised off of the skin.  They can vary in size from a few millimeters to several centimeters. Hemangiomas can grow very rapidly through the first year of a child's life.  Most hemangiomas will slowly go away in a few years. 

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