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Birthmarks are abnormalities of the skin that are present when a baby is born. There are two types of birthmarks. Vascular birthmarks are made up of blood vessels that haven't formed correctly. They are usually red. Two types of vascular birthmarks are hemangiomas and port-wine stains. Pigmented birthmarks are made of a cluster of pigment cells which cause color in skin. They can be many different colors, from tan to brown, gray to black, or even blue. Moles can be birthmarks.
No one knows what causes many types of birthmarks, but some run in families. Your baby's doctor will look at the birthmark to see if it needs any treatment or if it should be watched. Pigmented birthmarks aren't usually treated, except for moles. Treatment for vascular birthmarks includes laser surgery.
Most birthmarks are not serious, and some go away on their own. Some stay the same or get worse as you get older. Usually birthmarks are only a concern for your appearance. But certain types can increase your risk of skin cancer. If your birthmark bleeds, hurts, itches, or becomes infected, call your health care provider.
- Birthmarks (Nemours Foundation) Also in Spanish
- Birthmarks: Conditions, Treatments, and Pictures (VisualDX)
- Infantile Hemangiomas: About Strawberry Baby Birthmarks (American Academy of Pediatrics) Also in Spanish
Treatments and Therapies
- Laser Vascular Lesion Treatment (VisualDX)
- Laser/Light Therapy for Birthmarks (American Society for Dermatologic Surgery)
- Birthmarks: Signs and Symptoms (American Academy of Dermatology)
- Capillary Hemangioma (American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus)
- Frequently Asked Questions about Congenital Melanocytic Nevus (CMN) (Nevus Outreach, Inc.)
- Guide to Understanding Hemangiomas (Children's Craniofacial Association) - PDF
- Hemangiomas (American Osteopathic College of Dermatology)
- Klippel-Trenaunay Syndrome (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke)
- Port-Wine Stains (Nemours Foundation) Also in Spanish
- Sturge-Weber Syndrome (Nemours Foundation)
- Sturge-Weber Syndrome (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke)
- What Is Hemangioma? (American Academy of Ophthalmology) Also in Spanish
- Giant congenital melanocytic nevus: MedlinePlus Genetics (National Library of Medicine)
- Café au Lait Macule (VisualDX)
- Cherry Hemangioma (VisualDX)
- Nevus, Congenital Melanocytic (VisualDX)
- Port-Wine Stain (VisualDX)
- Salmon Patch (VisualDX)
- Strawberry Hemangioma (VisualDX)
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Hemangioma (National Institutes of Health)
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Nevus (National Institutes of Health)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Placental chorioangioma and pregnancy outcome: a ten-year retrospective study in a...
- Article: Surgical management of symptomatic hemangioma of the geniculate ganglion: fascicular-sparing resection...
- Article: Nd:YAG 1064-nm laser for residual infantile hemangioma after propranolol treatment.
- Birthmarks -- see more articles
Find an Expert
- Find a Dermatologist (American Academy of Dermatology)
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
- Congenital Hemangiomas (For Parents) (Nemours Foundation) Also in Spanish
- Infantile Hemangiomas (For Parents) (Nemours Foundation)
- What's a Birthmark? (Nemours Foundation) Also in Spanish
- Birthmarks - pigmented (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
- Birthmarks - red (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
- Cherry angioma (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
- Hemangioma (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
- Mongolian blue spots (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
- Port-wine stain (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
- Stork bite (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish