Should you worry about your child’s birthmark?

Although the cause of birthmarks in children is unknown, the most majority of them are harmless and do not necessitate treatment.

Should you worry about your child’s birthmark?
 Birthmarks are discoloured and/or elevated spots of skin that appear at birth or within a few weeks of birth.

Did you know that more than 10 percent of babies have a birthmark of some type? The good news is that birthmarks are often harmless, and some may fade or disappear over time even without treatment.

What causes them?

Birthmarks are skin marks that a baby can develop before or shortly after birth. Most are caused by unknown factors and are not the result of anything done or not done during pregnancy. Some types of birthmarks may run in families, although no genetic cause has yet been identified.

Birthmarks and their classifications

Haemangiomas

Haemangiomas are typically red in colour and can be elevated or flat. Some have the ability to cover enormous amounts of skin. One in every twenty babies is affected by a haemangioma. Girls are three times more likely than boys to have them, and premature babies are more prone to get this type of birthmark.

Strawberry haemangiomas and deep haemangiomas are the two most prevalent forms of haemangiomas.

  1. Strawberry haemangiomas are so-called because of their bright red colour. They develop on the skin’s surface and can be flat and splotchy or look like elevated, firm pimples. Strawberry haemangiomas near a bodily opening or fold are more likely to ulcerate, which means the surface of the birthmark becomes an open sore. In some cases, blood or pus may leak from the haemangioma, necessitating medical attention.
  2. Deep haemangiomas occur as elevated blue-grey lumps in the deeper layers of the skin. This form of birthmark may not be visible until weeks or months after a baby is born.

Haemangiomas typically grow rapidly throughout the first year of a baby’s life. Then they level out and fade away. Many haemangiomas vanish completely by the age of ten, though some may leave a light discolouration or rippled texture on the skin.

Salmon Patches

Salmon patches are small, flat, pinkish-red markings caused by innocuous clusters of blood vessels and can develop on any part of a child’s body. When salmon patches occur on the back of the neck, they are commonly referred to as “stork bites”. While “stork bites” are often permanent, they can be easily hidden as your child’s hair grows longer. Salmon patches can also form in the centre of the face, including the brow, eyelids, and lip area. These are commonly referred to as “angel kisses,” and usually fade as a child grows. Salmon patches rarely need medical treatment.

Port Wine Stains

Port wine stains are less prevalent than haemangiomas. They begin as flat pink or red patches on the skin and can develop into a deeper red or purple tint with time. The underlying skin may thicken. These birthmarks may also develop in size as the child grows. Port wine stains are occasionally related to Sturge-Weber syndrome, a medical condition that increases the risk of glaucoma, a disorder that causes increased eye pressure.  The risk of this disorder is greatest in babies who have port wine stain birthmarks that cover half or more of their face.

Venous Vasculature Malformations

Venous vascular malformations are birthmarks caused by clusters of veins that are abnormally dilated or swollen. Dilation increases the visibility of the veins and gives venous vascular abnormalities a red or purple appearance. This birthmark can appear from birth until late childhood. Venous vascular malformations grow slowly and do not go away on their own. A dermatologist can detect a venous vascular problem and advise you on the best treatment for your child.

Café-au-Lait Birthmarks

Café-au-lait birthmarks are named by their light brown colour: “Café-au-lait” translates to “coffee with milk” in French. Although some are present at birth, the majority of café-au-lait birthmarks develop after a child is born.

They are relatively common, with up to 30% of children having a café-au-lait birthmark by the age of six. Café-au-lait birthmarks vary in size and shape but are typically circular or oval. These birthmarks appear when skin cells create an excessive amount of melanin, the body’s natural colour.

Café-au-lait birthmarks do not fade and may get larger or darker over time. The vast majority are risk-free. However, the presence of six or more, regardless of where they are on the body, may be associated with neurofibromatosis type 1. If your child has six or more café-au-lait spots, it’s best to take your child to see a dermatologist.

Mongolian Spots

Mongolian spots are flat blue-grey patches that are present at birth and most commonly appear on the lower back and buttocks. These patches vary in size and tend to vanish during a child’s first few years of life. They form as a result of pigment cells producing melanin beneath the skin’s surface and do not require treatment. When these birthmarks form on the face or shoulder, they can be treated with laser therapy.

Congenital Nevi

Congenital nevi are moles that exist from birth. These moles are distinct from those acquired as a result of solar exposure. They are frequently larger, may develop hair, and can appear on any area of the body. These moles can range in colour from pale brown to dark brown to virtually black. They are either flat or rough in texture.

The majority of moles present at birth are harmless. However, if several small moles are present at birth, they may suggest an overabundance of pigment cells forming in the central nervous system, which, if untreated, can lead to pressure on the brain and convulsions. If your kid has a lot of little moles before birth, you should take him or her to a dermatologist.

Moles that appear later in life may be connected with melanoma, a type of skin cancer, whereas moles that appear at birth are less usually associated with skin cancer. If a kid is born with a mole that is greater than 8 cm in diameter, the risk of cancer developing later in life is increased. In this case, a dermatologist examines the mole and determines whether further testing is required.

Sebaceous Nevi

Sebaceous nevi are present at birth and are most frequently found on the scalp. They develop as a result of an overpopulation of sebaceous glands, which generate a waxy substance known as sebum. Birthmarks of this type are typically tan or orange in hue. They frequently take the form of a long oval or comma. Sebaceous nevi do not diminish with time, and they prevent hair growth in areas of the skin where they are present. A small fraction of sebaceous nevi can develop into a malignancy. Despite the low danger, a dermatologist may advise regular checks to ensure that any changes in your child’s birthmark are detected.