While birthmarks are common, not everyone is born with one. There are different types of birthmarks and they vary in size, colour and texture. Birthmarks are usually harmless but in some cases, they require treatment and intervention.
Birthmarks are discoloured areas or abnormal patches of skin that develop before birth or a few weeks after. They consist of overgrown pigment cells or incorrectly formed blood vessels.
The exact cause of birthmarks and why they develop have yet to be understood, although some types do run in families.
The most common types of birthmarks that children have are vascular, made up of incorrectly formed birthmarks, and typically red in colour.
They are divided into two types: infantile hemangiomas and port-wine stains. Hemangiomas are relatively common, occurring in 1-2% of babies. They occur more commonly in premature babies, twins, and females.
There are also pigmented birthmarks that consist of pigment cells that cause patches of colour on the skin, ranging from tan, brown, blue, white, grey, or black. Congenital melanocytic nevus (moles) can also be birthmarks.
|Types of Birthmarks||Appearance||Complications|
|Café au lait macules (CALMs)|
|Congenital melanocytic nevus (CMN)|
While most birthmarks don’t require treatment, some types like infantile haemangioma can cause problems with vision or breathing in children. For aesthetic purposes, some people choose to treat their children’s birthmarks by removing them. Consult a dermatologist that is specialised in paediatric birthmarks and skin disorders if you have concerns about your child’s birthmark.
|Type of Birthmark||Treatment Options|
Pulse dye laser
Although most haemangiomas do not require treatment, there are some factors that require treatment without delay:
|Café au lait macules (CALMs)||Does not require treatment.|
|Epidermal Nevus||Surgical excision, electrosurgery or lasers can be used to remove the lesion.|
|Nevus Sebaceous||Surgical removal is recommended for larger lesions.|
|Congenital melanocytic nevus (CMN)||For large CMNs your doctor may advise for brain and spine scans.|
|Nevus depigmentosus (white birthmarks)||There is no specific treatment. However, it is advisable to rule out other causes of white patches in the skin.|
Any child can develop birthmarks, as approximately 10% of all babies are born with them.
A healthcare professional or paediatric dermatologist can identify and diagnose your child’s birthmark based on appearance or through imaging tests such as biopsies, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound, and computed tomography scans.
MBBS(NUS, SINGAPORE), MRCP(RCP, UNITED KINGDOM)