From freckles to moles, everyone has marks on their skin – even newborns. Did you know that at least 40% of newborns have some type of birthmark? There’s simply no such thing as flawless skin (unless you’re using an Instagram filter). These marks can appear at birth or shortly after and most aren’t harmful even if they may change in size and appearance. So, where do these marks come from? What do they mean and are they indicative of a more serious health condition? This guide will help to answer those questions and more.
Salmon Patches: Have you ever heard of a Stork Bite? What about an Angel’s Kiss? These phrases are commonly used to describe a cluster of blood vessels. Salmon patches are among the most common birthmarks in newborns – 30-50% of newborns will have them. They’re typically found on the back of the neck or between the eyes. Most of the time, they disappear within a couple weeks or months.
Port Wine Stain: While these are similar in appearance to salmon patches, they are purple-to-red and are usually on the face. They’re much rarer than salmon patches but are almost always permanent and grow darker and larger as a baby grows. That said, these “stains” are not harmful.
Cavernous Hemangiomas/Malformations: This type of hemangioma can be much more problematic than others. They can be found anywhere in the body (though most are found on the head or neck atbirth) and can result in severe brain or spinal cord issues. The cause is unknown, and they do not seem to be passed on from one generation to the next. Depending on where they’re located, they typically don’t require any sort of treatment. Some parents may choose to have them removed by laser or surgery if they’re easily visible.
Café-Au-Lait: If you’re wondering why these spots are named after foods and beverages, it’s beyondus! Café-au-lait marks are usually found at birth but can start to appear after a couple of years. They’re round/oval in shape and are light tan or light brown. While they’re typically harmless, be sure to have your pediatrician check if your little one has several café-au-lait spots that are larger than a quarter. This may be indicative of neurofibromatosis.
Mongolian Spots: These spots are more commonly found on babies with darker complexions. Rather than being red or pink or brown in appearance, they’re typically a hue of grey, blue or black. They’re merely a concentrated area of pigment in the skin and usually disappear with time. They’re also harmless.
Venous Malformation: These birthmarks are always present at birth and often grow in size as a baby grows. While most of the birthmarks we’ve listed are not painful, venous malformations can be. Since these are malformations, their appearance can vary greatly: they can be blue, close to the skin’s surface or deep, focused in one area or spread out. They do not go away with time and can seriously affect the respiratory system if not treated properly. Treatment for these marks varies but may involve injections and/or laser therapy.
. Congenital Nevi: These are just your average mole and can appear anywhere on the body at any time. The appearance varies – they may be flat or raised, small or large, and any shade of brown. They’re mostly harmless but should be monitored if they change in appearance as they may develop into skin cancer. 1 in 20,000 newborns worldwide may have LCMN, a large congenital melanocytic nevus, which are the most likely to develop into melanoma.
Strawberry Hemangiomas: As you may have already guessed, these birthmarks are red clusters of blood vessels that are close to the surface of the skin. They may start out as white or pink areas, though. Approximately 4-5% of all babies are born with or develop some type of hemangioma. While the appearance of these may concern parents, they are benign. That said, they may need to be treated depending on the size and the location of the mark.