If you or any of your children were naturally born with a birthmark anywhere on their body, then you may have a lot of questions and worries in your mind that you will like to ask a dermatologist. So, here is an ultimate guide on birthmarks for you.
What are birthmarks?
A birthmark is defined as a colored mark present either on or under the skin of any child. Birthmarks are either present on an individual body at birth or shortly develop after birth. Moreover, some of such colored marks either fade with time, while others may be permanent.
Typically, birthmarks are caused by extra pigment-producing cells that are present in the blood vessels or skin naturally and do not grow normally. Almost all types of birthmarks are harmless and painless. However, in some rare conditions, a few marks may get associated with other skin conditions and cause severe complications. In such a case, they should necessarily be checked by a reliable skin specialist.
Two Most Common Birthmarks
- One of the prevalent birthmarks naturally present in most children is the congenital hemangioma. It is a non-cancerous and rare tumor that is made up of many thin-walled blood vessels and thickened skin and is present and fully grown at the skin while birth.
- On the other hand, another most widespread birthmark is vascular malformation. It is a birthmark that typically occurs due to the collection of blood vessels. They are also often present at the time of birth.
Now, let’s see both of them in detail:
What is Congenital Hemangioma?
Congenital hemangioma birthmarks are naturally present on the baby’s skin at the time of birth and they often do not grow as soon as the baby is born. In addition, such marks are not dangerous and cancerous at all.
Types of Congenital Hemangioma
There are three further types of congenital hemangioma. Those are given as follows:
- Rapidly involuting congenital hemangioma
These birthmarks somehow look like purplish nodules and easily go away over time. Typically, they start to shrink naturally with the initial few months of a child’s life and usually disappear completely within the first year.
- Partially involuting congenital hemangioma (PICH)
These ate the birthmarks that somehow shrink a bit over time but never really go away entirely from the children’s skin.
- Non-involuting congenital hemangioma
These are the kind of birthmarks that never shrink or go away with increasing time. They somehow look dark blue in color and are very soft and tender in nature to be stagnant like venous malformations.
All these should be get checked by a specialist dermatologist to determine their type and respective staying period.
What are Vascular Malformations?
These are also kinds of birthmarks naturally present on the child’s body at the time of birth like congenital hemangiomas. However, these particular vascular malformations are usually formed due to abnormally made blood vessels. They usually tend to grow over time with the proportion of the patient’s growth, but some even grow robustly. Moreover, typically vascular malformations do not shrink similar to involuting congenital hemangioma and stay permanently on the child’s skin throughout life.
Types of Vascular Malformations
There are five further types of vascular malformations. Let’s see all of them one by one:
- Capillary malformations also known as port-wine stains are flat purple, red, or pink spots.
- Venous malformations are like uneven areas of skin-colored either light or dark blue.
- Lymphatic malformations are typically made of swollen lymph vessels.
- Arteriovenous malformations are because of arteries that are connecting directly to body veins without the intervention of blood capillaries.
- Mixed malformations are generally the combination of any of the above-mentioned two types of malformations.
However, if any of the above malformations is not naturally present at the skin of a newborn child and it develops or increases, or decreases over time after development, then it is called vascular neoplasm. All these should be checked by skin specialists as if left unnoticed, they may lead to some capillaries and arteries problems unknowingly.
Do Both These Types of Birthmarks Cause Significant Health Concerns?
Whilst most naturally occurring birthmarks are not really painful or harmful to a child’s baby, still, their parents are primarily concerned about their disfigurement, especially in the case if the birthmarks are present on the exposed body parts like face, neck, head, hands or feet.
However, in a few cases, some large-sized venues malformations can sometimes put children at a greater risk of bleeding, heart issues, or blood clots which is why they should necessarily be diagnosed, checked, and treated by professional dermatologists.
How are such birthmarks diagnosed and treated?
Nearly all birthmarks require physical evaluation and observation to obtain an accurate diagnosis, and if essential proper treatments. Although doctors may diagnose some birthmarks through prenatal ultrasound, if they are not detected at that stage, obviously they will appear as skin lesions on the newborn babies at the time of birth.
Usually rapidly involving involuting birthmarks can be easily diagnosed by a skin specialist through a keen observation or physical exam over the course of some time.
For the diagnosis of birthmarks, dermatologists may use a wide range of diagnostic tools, primarily depending on their size, type, and location on the body. In addition, a comprehensive evaluation of them may generally include
- blood tests
- magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
Furthermore, depending on which organ system is involved in the malformation or hemangioma, different skin specialists may suggest different skin treatments.
Typically, the most common skin treatments for these popular birthmarks include laser treatment by a reliable skin specialist in young-born children as early as three to four weeks of age. Laser light significantly helps in lightening the color of affected skin’s birthmarks. In addition, it also damaged the abnormally formed color-producing cells and blood vessels in the skin, which resultantly decrease the birthmark’s skin color to look like normal skin. Moreover, a few dermatologists may also suggest some sirolimus creams or topical medicines to apply at birthmarks after the laser treatment for further prevention.