A birthmark is a spot that varies in color or texture compared to the rest of your skin. It can appear anywhere on your body and appears at or shortly after birth. While birthmarks are harmless, they should be examined on babies whenever they are noticed. A birthmark may be a sign of an underlying condition. In adults, a birthmark may cause self-consciousness because of its size or location. Advanced Dermatology, serving the Greater Houston, TX area and the surrounding communities, offers birthmark exams for infants and removal for adults. Schedule an appointment with our medical dermatology teams to have a birthmark exam for you or your child.
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How do birthmarks form?
Birthmarks are very common and can be found in babies of all skin tones. Some birthmarks (strawberry or deep hemangiomas, port-wine stains, and salmon patches) may be formed when a blood vessel does not develop correctly. Other birthmarks (moles, café-au-lait spots, Mongolian spots, and other hemangiomas) have no clear cause. A hemangioma is more likely to develop on a baby who is born prematurely, is underweight, or multiple births (twin or triplet), as well as Caucasian females. Some birthmarks fade as the child grows older while others remain.
Types of Birthmarks
It's important to have a birthmark thoroughly assessed before determining if or how it should be removed. Our team can explain the type of birthmark, what to expect, if it indicates an underlying condition, and what you can do to treat it. Some of the most common birthmarks are:
- Café-au-lait spot (macule)
A café-au-lait spot is a flat, dark spot that usually appears on the buttocks, and it remains on the skin unless it is treated.
- Deep hemangioma (cavernous infantile hemangioma)
A deep hemangioma is a lump under the skin that usually feels warm and firm. It may grow quickly in the first year, causing pain or bleeding, which should be treated right away. Most deep hemangiomas fade in 5 – 10 years but may leave a mark or scar.
- Mole (congenital melanocytic nevus)
A brown, raised mole may appear anywhere on the skin. Most moles will remain unless you have them removed.
- Mongolian spot (dermal melanocytosis)
Most common in Asians, a Mongolian spot looks like a bruise. Typically found on the low back or buttocks, a Mongolian spot usually disappears on its own in 3 – 5 years.
- Nevus sebaceous (organoid hamartoma)
A nevus sebaceous is a raised, hairless patch usually found on the scalp or face that will not go away on its own.
- Port-wine stain (nevus flammeus)
A red, pink, or purple patch of skin generally found on the face, but it can appear anywhere on the body. Unless treated, the birthmark will remain and may become larger or darker.
- Salmon patch (nevus simplex)
Also known as an angel's kiss or a stork's bite, a salmon patch is pink or red. Usually on the face or neck, a salmon patch may disappear or fade naturally in 1 – 3 years.
- Strawberry hemangioma (superficial infantile hemangioma)
A strawberry-colored patch of skin that generally develops on the head or neck. A strawberry hemangioma may grow quickly for 4 – 6 months and then begin to shrink, fade, and soften. Most fade away in 1 – 10 years.
- White spot (hypopigmented macule)
A white or lighter area of skin that may be flat or raised. This birthmark may disappear on its own.
How we treat birthmarks
After your practitioner assesses the birthmark, he or she can go over treatment options with you. Laser therapy may fade the pigment of some birthmarks so it is less visible. Medications, like propranolol, corticosteroid, or timolol may be prescribed to shrink certain birthmarks. For birthmarks that may become skin cancer, like a mole, a surgical excision may be performed. Advanced Dermatology practitioners use a very gentle, delicate approach for birthmark removal to minimize scarring.
Transforming Your Skin
If you have a birthmark you would like removed or you want more information on birthmark(s), schedule a consultation with our teams in Katy, League City, Pearland, or Sugar Land, TX. We will perform a thorough consultation before giving you more information on your treatment options. Contact our experienced teams to schedule a birthmark consultation.
Are birthmarks a sign of something dangerous?
In most cases, birthmarks are harmless and not a cause for concern. They are generally composed of pigmented cells or blood vessels that did not develop in the same way as the surrounding skin. However, some birthmarks can be associated with underlying medical conditions. It's essential to have any birthmark, especially if it changes in appearance, checked by an experienced dermatologist. While the majority of birthmarks are benign, a small percentage may require medical evaluation or treatment if they are indicative of a more serious issue.
Will a birthmark go away on its own?
Many birthmarks persist throughout a person's life and do not spontaneously disappear. However, certain types of birthmarks, particularly some vascular birthmarks like hemangiomas, may naturally fade over time, often during childhood. The rate and extent of fading can vary, and not all birthmarks will fade on their own. If you have concerns about a specific birthmark or wish to explore removal options, we are happy to discuss your available options and recommend a course of treatment that may be most appropriate and effective for you.
Will a birthmark come back after getting it removed?
In most cases, once a birthmark is successfully removed through medical procedures such as laser therapy or surgical excision, it typically does not return. However, the outcome can vary depending on the type of birthmark, the treatment method used, and individual factors. It's important to follow the aftercare instructions provided by our team to minimize the risk of complications and optimize the results of the removal procedure.