Birthmarks - What are they?

There is a reason why they are called birthmarks. They are colored marks on the skin of newborns. Ranging in color from pale pink to dark browns and reds, birthmarks can be small spots that are barely noticeable. But they can also be areas of discoloration that cover a large area. Most birthmarks are harmless. The personal problems that arise are most often in the areas of self-awareness. A large birthmark, especially on the face, can make a person very self-conscious. There are several different kinds of birthmarks.

Angel Kiss

Birthmarks are new blood vessels that are clumped together on the skin. A birthmark exists at birth, but can grow darker or larger over the first few months. The types of birthmarks are as follows.

  • Strawberry hemangioma
  • Cavernous hemangioma
  • Port Wine Stain
  • Strawberry birthmarks are bright red, thus the name. They are immature blood vessels. Near the surface of the skin, most of the time, the mark disappears by the age of nine as the vessels slowly mature. A strawberry mark in between a newborn’s eyebrows is often called an “angel kiss”. There is a deep hamangioma that is beneath the epidermis called the Cavernous. These types of birthmarks do not go away. There are also compound birthmarks, having the characteristics of a strawberry and a cavernous birthmark. The port wine stain is level with the outer skin. Normally, it is found on the face or neck. Port wine stains can be very large sometimes, covering a major part of the face. The dark maroon color occurs, because the stain is created by blood vessels that did not form properly during gestation.

    There are other names given to birthmarks, such as salmon patches and Café Au Lait spots, but the 3 types mentioned make up the majority of birthmarks. Birthmarks can be all shapes, sizes, forms, heights and colors. In other words, anything goes. Many people are not aware that birthmarks can also appear inside – on major organs. They are more serious when that happens and may require surgery. Several approaches are taken towards the care of skin that has a birthmark.

    Hide and Seek

    A person with a birthmark in a prominent place often tries to camouflage the discoloration. In other situations, where the birthmark is a large raised disfiguration, they resort to surgery. There are four approaches to hiding or eliminating a birthmark.

  • Use of Corticosteroids
  • Surgery recommended by a plastic surgeon or dermatologist
  • Laser therapy used on marks close to the surface of the skin
  • Cosmetic coverage
  • Surgery requires eliminating the malformed blood vessels. It is used in cases where the birthmark is formed by a grouping of blood vessels usually above and below the epidermis. Laser therapy, on the other hand, can be used on port wine stains and other shallower birthmarks. Cosmetics use foundations, concealers and fixing sprays to hide the birthmark. There are specially designed cosmetics for use on the skin after laser surgery. They keep the skin cool and moist and protect the treated skin area from the sun. There is a wide range of herbal cleansers and lotions that will ease the swelling and bruising that follows birthmark treatments.

    There is research being done on birthmarks every day. New products and laser therapies are being developed constantly. If you have a birthmark, keep current of the most recent treatments and cosmetics. Like any other beauty issue, your skin deserves the best.