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Common Types of Birthmarks Topics

Common Types of Birthmarks - Topic Overview

Birthmarks are colored marks on the skin that are present at birth or develop shortly after birth. They can be many different sizes, shapes, and colors, including brown, tan, black, blue or blue-gray, pink, white, red, or purple. Some birthmarks appear on the surface of the skin, some are raised above the surface of the skin, and some are located under the skin. Most birthmarks are harmless and do not need treatment. Many birthmarks change, grow, shrink, or disappear. There are many types of birthmarks, and some are more common than others.

Salmon patches (also called stork bites, angel kisses, or macular stains) are the most common type of birthmark. They are thin, flat, light pink or red areas of colored skin that occur most frequently on the back of the neck (stork bites) and on a baby's upper eyelids, upper lip, or between the eyebrows (angel kisses). Most salmon patches on the eyelids fade without treatment within the child's first year. Most salmon patches on the nape of the neck do not fade. Salmon patches are more noticeable when a baby is crying or when he or she is hot or cold.

Congenital moles (nevi) are present at birth and are usually brown in color. They can appear anywhere on the body and can be different shapes and sizes. Some moles appear alone, and some moles appear in groups. Large moles may need to be closely watched because they can become cancerous later in life.

Café-au-lait spots are smooth birthmarks that may be present at birth but tend to develop in childhood. They are usually oval in shape and range from light brown to chocolate brown in color. They are found most commonly on the torso, buttocks, and legs. Café-au-lait spots do not go away, may increase in number, and generally do not require treatment. A single café-au-lait spot is not a sign of a health problem. But six or more spots that are larger than 0.25 in. (6.4 mm) or ones that occur along with freckles in the armpit can suggest neurofibromatosis.

Mongolian spots are smooth, blue or blue-gray birthmarks that usually are found across the lower back and buttocks. They tend to occur in children of Asian, Southern European, Hispanic, Pacific Island, or African descent. A child may have one or several Mongolian spots. These types of birthmarks usually disappear without treatment by age 3 or 4.

Port-wine stains are pink-red at birth and darken to a red-purple color after a few years. Port-wine stains are caused by blood vessels that do not develop normally. They can be small or they can cover a large area of the body. They generally are found on the face but can occur anywhere on the body. Port-wine stains on the face can be associated with brain problems caused by Sturge-Weber syndrome.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 08, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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