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A birthmark is a coloured mark on or under a newborn baby's skin. Some birthmarks show up soon after a baby is born. Most birthmarks are obvious at birth. Some kinds of birthmarks fade or go away as a child gets older. Others stay the same or get bigger, darker, or thicker.
There are many kinds of birthmarks. They can be any size or shape and can be different colours, such as blue or blue-grey, brown, tan, black, pink, white, red, or purple. Some birthmarks are smooth, and some are raised or lumpy.
Nearly all birthmarks are harmless and painless. But it's important to have a doctor check all birthmarks, just to be sure they are okay.
Some birthmarks are from extra colour (pigment) in the skin. Other birthmarks are blood vessels that are bunched together or don't grow normally. It's not clear why some children have birthmarks and others don't.
Birthmarks usually do not have symptoms. For this reason, some people with birthmarks may not even know they have them.
Your doctor will diagnose birthmarks during a physical exam. Your doctor may ask questions about the pregnancy, labour, and delivery. You may also be asked about family history. In some cases, your doctor may do tests.
Most birthmarks are harmless and need no treatment. Some will even fade or disappear over time. But in rare cases, birthmarks need treatment because they are growing quickly, growing on an internal organ, or causing a medical problem (such as a problem with sight, breathing, hearing, speech, or movement).
There are several ways to fade, shrink, or remove birthmarks. These include:
Your options will depend on the type of birthmark, where it is, and what problems it's causing. Treating a birthmark can be a big decision. The treatments may not work, and they can be painful and cause side effects.
If you see a birthmark on your baby, make sure that a doctor has seen it. Although most birthmarks are harmless, some aren't. If a birthmark grows, bleeds, hurts, or gets infected, see a doctor to have it checked.
If the doctor prescribes medicine, have your child take it as directed. Keep your child from scratching a birthmark by covering it and by trimming their fingernails. Help them understand that a birthmark is natural. Join a support group or see a counsellor if your child still has problems because of the birthmark.
Current as of: March 22, 2023
Author: Healthwise StaffClinical Review Board: Kathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineMartin J. Gabica MD - Family MedicineJohn Pope MD - Pediatrics
Current as of: March 22, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & John Pope MD - Pediatrics
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