It’s normal to be distressed if your baby has birthmarks, especially large or disfiguring ones. For instance, birthmarks may seem out of place on newborn skin that is otherwise smooth and “pure.” The good news is that many get smaller over time and even go away. In some cases, though, they can indicate health issues.
When a Doctor Needs to Be Involved
After the birth of your baby, a doctor should’ve examined the child and done an initial assessment of the birthmark. Contact your doctor or pediatric dermatologist’s office right away if the birthmark begins to itch, hurt, bleed or show signs of infection. In cases of bleeding, also clean the area with water and soap and then wrap with gauze.
Pediatric dermatologists can also help with other issues such as common rashes, pimples, blotches, and moles. Fortunately, blotches and pimples on newborns disappear much more quickly than birthmarks do.
Types of Birthmarks
Birthmarks tend to be either pigmented or vascular. They’re pigmented if too many pigment-creation cells grew in that area of skin. They’re vascular if the skin has too many blood vessels or the vessels are wider than normal.
Vascular birthmarks can generally be treated, while doctors often leave pigmented birthmarks alone. Examples of pigmented birthmarks include these:
- Brown nevi: Also called moles, brown nevi don’t go away without treatment. They can indicate a smaller increased risk of skin cancer down the road. Have a dermatologist regularly check your child’s body for moles. As an adult, your child should also be diligent about keeping an eye on his or her moles.
- Mongolian spots: Typically on darker skin, these bluish-gray marks usually disappear by the time a child starts school.
- Cafe-au-lait spots: Six or more of these spots may indicate neurofibromatosis when tumors grow on nerves, so consult a doctor. These spots can grow more plentiful after a child is born.
Examples of vascular birthmarks include the following:
- Port-wine stains: If near the eye, this birthmark that looks like spilled pinkish or red wine may cause eye issues. These birthmarks tend to grow and darken over time but can generally be treated with laser therapy.
- Hemangiomas: These “strawberry marks” are tumors and may cause issues with breathing, feeding or eyesight, depending on their location. If so, they may require early treatment. Otherwise, they are usually gone by the time a child reaches 10 years old. After a period of growth in the child’s first six months, hemangiomas gradually shrink and then are gone. Some do leave scars, though. On occasion, an open sore can result from hemangiomas, and treatment for hemangiomas may involve propranolol, beta blockers, surgery or oral corticosteroids.
- Macular stains: These tend to be gone by the time the child is two years old. They’re also called salmon patches and stork bites and are a collection of blood vessels visible through the skin.
Birthmarks can make a child feel self-conscious, especially if the parents are too. A dermatologist may be able to reassure you and recommend various cosmetics and treatment options. In some cases, laser therapy, surgical removal, cryotherapy or other treatments may be necessary. Call Windsor Dermatology today or request an appointment online to find out more about your child’s birthmark.