If your child’s birthmark worries you or your child, make an appointment to discuss the birthmark and any possible treatment options.

What is it?

A birthmark is a coloured mark on a baby’s skin. Some birthmarks are seen at birth, while some show up in the first weeks or months of life. Some fade as the child gets older, others stay the same or get proportionately bigger. There are many different kinds of birthmarks, of many different shapes, sizes and colours. Most birthmarks are benign / harmless, but it is important to have them checked by a doctor.

What causes it?

The exact cause of all birthmarks is not known. They are formed before birth from cells within the skin. Brown birthmarks are from pigment cells, while red and blue birthmarks are from blood vessels in the skin.

Some types of birthmarks

  • Salmon patches: Pink patches on the forehead that often fade over time
  • Congenital moles: Most are brown and can be anywhere on the body and vary in size
  • Café au lait patches: Flat pale brown patches of skin
  • Mongolian spots (dermal melanocytosis): Flat blue or blue-grey patches on the lower back (but can be found in other areas too) that fade over time
  • Port wine stains (capillary malformations): Pink or red birthmarks, most common on the face. They can darken over time.

What are the treatment options?

Most birthmarks don’t need treatment. Some will fade or go away completely over time; others may be treated with laser or surgery. Your options will depend on the type, size and location on the body.

What to expect at your appointment

You will be asked questions about the birthmark and if it has been changing at all. You will also be asked questions about your pregnancy and your baby’s health and development. The skin will be examined carefully for the features of birthmarks.

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