Birth marks are extremely common and usually harmless skin abnormalities present when a baby is born. Our providers will often examine the birth mark to determine whether further treatment is necessary or if the mark should be monitored. Usually no treatment is required unless the birth mark takes the form of a mole. While most birth marks are nothing to worry about, it’s common to have them removed, especially if they are particularly large or otherwise noticeable. Our board-certified dermatologists at Dermatology Associates of Atlanta know that even when a birth mark does not pose a health risk, it may still be aesthetically preferable to have it diminished or removed altogether.
There are two main categories of birth marks – pigmented and vascular. Vascular birth marks are composed of blood vessels that failed to form properly, while a concentrated group of pigment cells comprise a pigmented birth mark and cause color abnormalities in the skin. These categories include the following common types of birth marks.
- Port-wine stains: These are the color of red wine or grape juice and do not go away without treatment. They usually get bigger as a child grows.
- Hemangiomas: This kind of birth mark can show up above or below the skin. The above-skin version is sometimes called a strawberry hemangioma because they are round, dark red, and may resemble the fruit. Deep hemangiomas are usually blue or purple and cause the skin to bulge. Fortunately, hemangiomas often start shrinking and are often completely flat by age 10.
- Salmon patches: Also known as angel kisses or stork bites, these are flat, pink or red patches that usually appear on the face or neck. Some fade over time, while others do not.
- Moles: Nearly everyone has or knows someone with a mole or two, they’re so common. Typically, moles are round spots – raised or smooth – that come in varying shades of brown, pink, or black. Moles may go away naturally. You may get more moles as you age. Unless your mole itches, bleeds, or looks abnormal, it’s probably nothing to worry about.
- Café-au-lait spots: These birth marks are the color of coffee with milk, hence their name. They come in a variety of sizes and sometimes fade with time, but don’t usually disappear completely.
- Mongolian spots: Dark-skinned people are more likely to have these marks, which appear as grayish or bluish spots or smudges, on the back or bottom. They’re sometimes mistaken for bruises due to their coloring.
Birth marks rarely cause pain or require mandatory treatment. Cosmetically speaking, it’s a good idea, if you have vascular or pigmented birth marks, to have them examined by our physicians to discuss monitoring and viable treatment options for your specific concerns. If you decide you want to remove your birth mark for aesthetic reasons, there are several treatment options available to either remove or minimize the appearance of birth marks. Some of the most common are:
- Surgery: Our skilled providers can surgically remove a raised birth mark, such as a mole or hemangioma. Surgery is less common than other birth mark treatments.
- Lasers: At the Laser Institute of Georgia we employ the use of highly-specialized lasers uniquely tailored to treat a multitude of conditions, including birth marks. Special skin lasers can reduce the size and darkness of birth marks and are the most common form of birth mark treatment.
- Makeup: Certain kinds of makeup can help camouflage birth marks that don’t fade on their own.
How do lasers remove birth marks?
Laser lights and Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) are used to target and shut off blood vessels beneath the surface of the birth mark. This causes the birth mark to eventually fade.
Are birth marks painful?
Birth marks should not hurt. If you or your child has a painful birth mark, contact your physician immediately.