Red birthmarks are skin markings created by blood vessels close to the skin surface. They develop before or shortly after birth.
There are two main categories of birthmarks:
Hemangiomas are a common type of vascular birthmark. Their cause is unknown. Their color is caused by the growth of blood vessels at the site. Different types of hemangiomas include:
The main symptoms of birthmarks include:
A health care provider should examine all birthmarks. Diagnosis is based on how the birthmark looks.
Tests to confirm deeper birthmarks include:
Many strawberry hemangiomas, cavernous hemangiomas, and salmon patches are temporary and do not need treatment.
Port wine stains may not need treatment unless they:
Most permanent birthmarks are not treated before a child reaches school age or the birthmark is causing symptoms. Port wine stains on the face are an exception. They should be treated at a young age to prevent emotional and social problems. A laser can be used to treat them.
Concealing cosmetics (such as Covermark) may hide permanent birthmarks.
Oral or injected cortisone may reduce the size of a hemangioma that is growing quickly and affecting vision or vital organs.
Other treatments for red birthmarks include:
Birthmarks rarely cause problems, other than changes in appearance. Many birthmarks go away on their own by the time a child reaches school age, but some are permanent. The following development patterns are typical for the different types of birthmarks:
The following complications can occur from birthmarks:
Have your health care provider look at all birthmarks.
There is no known way to prevent birthmarks.
Strawberry mark; Vascular skin changes; Angioma cavernosum; Capillary hemangioma; Hemangioma simplex
Habif TP. Vascular tumors and malformations. In: Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology. 5th ed. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Mosby; 2009:chap 23.
James WD, Berger TG, Elston DM. Dermal and subcutaneous tumors. In: James WD, Berger TG, Elston DM, eds. Andrews' Diseases of the Skin: Clinical Dermatology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 28.
Morelli JG. Vascular disorders. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 642.
Rapini RP. Vascular proliferations and neoplasms. In: Rapini RP, ed. Practical Dermatopathology. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 25.
Updated by: Richard J. Moskowitz, MD, dermatologist in private practice, Mineola, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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