Birthmarks - 40 types

There are almost 40 different types of birthmarks. Approximately 10% percent of all children born in Canada and the United States are born with a type of vascular birthmark (involving blood vessels).  While many of these congenital birthmarks will disappear within a few years of age, about ten percent of these birthmarks will need to be seen by a specialist. Some birthmarks appear as people grow older.

The following list describes some of the more common birthmarks and appropriate treatment. If you have a birthmark, please consult a dermatologist for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM)
  • Usually present at birth, but sometimes doesn’t appear until adulthood
  • Can be acquired as a result of direct trauma
  • Firm mass, soft when pressed, usually on lips, head, or neck
  • Usually a combination of embolization and surgical excision.
Café au lait Spot
  • Flat patches of a tan to light brown colour
  • May occur anywhere on body
  • Laser therapy may be effective to remove the coloration. The birthmark can recur in spite of treatment or the treatment may not work.
Cavernous Hemangioma
  • Llumpy mass that is bluish or bluish-red in color
  • The borders are not as visible as with other hemangiomas.
  • Usually grows quickly during the first 6 months of age, then slows in growth, with most disappearing by 12 years of age
  • Hemangiomas  that don’t disappear are treated by differnent methods  depending on their size and location
  • Treatment method may be surgery, compression and massage, steroids, X-ray therapy, laser therapy, cryotherapy, or injection of hardening agents
Congenital Pigmented Nevi

  • Can vary from light brown to almost black moles, may be hairy
  • Small moles are much more common than large moles, and as such large moles should be tested for cancer
  • Is surgical removal depending on size and location. The excision could leave a scar.

  • Most occur on the head and neck area, and are reddish in color.
  • Occur 5 times more often in girls and women
  • Some visible at birth, or from 1-4 weeks after birth
  • May grow for 18 months, and then start to fade for 3-10 years
  • A few can be life threatening, especially internal hemangiomas, but some require no treatment and shrink with time
  • A full body scan should be done if more than three are present
  • Observation
  • Laser may help remove remaining evidence of the lesion
Lymphatic Malformation

  • Enlarged lymphatic vessels due to excess fluid
  • Although it can occur anywhere on body, it is most common in head and neck area, and can increase and grow
  • Leakage from skin can occur, and face will swell if lymph vessels in face are affected
  • Diagnosis can utilize MRI and CAT scans
  • Laser therapy
  • Sclerotherapy
  • Surgery
Mongolian Spot
  • Lesions resemble bruises, being slate grey or blue in colour
  • Common in darker skinned babies found on back, buttocks, and sometimes shoulders and legs usually fades over time
Port Wine Stain or Nevus Flammeus

  • Most appear at birth, and can be anywhere on the body
  • Are red or purple in color, and can be slightly raised or flat
  • Laser treatment can be used to reduce color and to improve the skin texture
Salmon Patch or Nevus Simplex

  • Salmon-colored mole, usually found on the nape of the neck, but can appear on forehead, upper eyelids, or around the mouth and nose
  • Also referred to as “angel kiss” or “stork bite”
  • More than 95% lighten and fade completely.
  • No treatment usually required
Strawberry Hemangioma

  • Red, soft, and raised, as a result of malformation of the blood vessels
  • Present at birth or shortly thereafter
  • Size can vary – will grow, but usually fades and disappears between the ages of 5-10
  • Depends on size and location of lesion, treatment is one or more of following:
  • Laser therapy, or injection of agents which destroy the blood vessel
Venous Malformation

  • Abnormality of the large deep veins, soft to the touch
  • When lesion is compressed the color disappears and empties
  • Can be superficial or deep - deep variety can be colourless but shows a protruding mass
  • Most common areas they are found are the jaw, cheek, lips and tongue
  • Slow, steady growth – rapid growth can be caused by serious sickness, trauma, infection, hormone changes
  • Full removal is recommended
Venous Stain
  • Flat birthmark, bluish in color
  • Comprised of enlarged blood vessels, especially those smaller veins that join capillaries to larger veins
  • Sometimes pressure cysts can appear and may pop and bleed
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