Birthmarks are colored spots on the skin. They may develop before or shortly after birth. These marks can be bright red, pink, brown, tan, or bluish. Birthmarks can be flat on the surface of the skin or raised.
The exact cause is not known. Some birthmarks can be genetic or part of a disease.
Birthmarks may be more common in certain people. For example:
Café-au-lait spots may happen in people with neurofibromatosis.
Hemangiomas are more common in females, people with light skin, and babies born very early.
Congenital dermal melanocytosis is seen more often in people with darker skin.
may occur in people with Sturge-Weber or Klippel Trenaunay syndrome.
Symptoms differ depending on the type of birthmark. For example:
Café-au-lait spots are light, tan-colored spots on the body.
are flat or slightly raised birthmarks that are bright red or bluish in color. They are often found on the face, head, and neck.
Macular stain, (also called salmon patches, "angel's kisses" or "stork bites") are pinkish or light red birthmarks. They are common on the back of the head, neck, and eyelids.
Congenital dermal melanocytosis - are flat, blue-gray birthmarks on the surface of the skin. They are often found on the lower back or buttocks.
are pink, red, or purple colored blotches. They are most common on the face, neck, arms, or legs.
Congenital nevi are dark, bumpy moles that may be covered in hair. They are often found on the belly and thighs.
Moles are birthmarks people are born with. Rarely, moles can become cancerous.
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam may be done. Birthmarks are usually diagnosed based on how they look. If the doctor has any concerns a biopsy may be taken. You may also need to see a doctor who treats skin problems.
Most birthmarks can and should be left alone. They may only need to be monitored. Treatment may be needed if:
A person does not like the way the birthmark looks
It causes discomfort or problems
It could turn into a more serious problem (rare)
Treatment depends on the type of birthmark. Options are:
Medicines—such as beta-blockers and corticosteroids for hemangiomas
Laser therapy—to prevent the growth or remove some birthmarks
Surgery—to remove a birthmark that is causing problems
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at email@example.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.