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Birthmarks in Children: Care Instructions


Birthmarks are coloured marks on the skin that are there at birth or shortly after birth. They can be different sizes and shapes. They come in many colours, including brown, tan, black, blue, pink, white, red, and purple. Some birthmarks form a raised area on the skin. Birthmarks can grow quickly, stay the same size, shrink, or disappear over time.

Doctors don't know why some children are born with birthmarks. Birthmarks can be caused by extra pigment in the skin or by blood vessels that group together.

Salmon patches are pink patches that occur mainly on the back of the neck, the upper eyelids, upper lip, or between the eyebrows. These marks are also called stork bites or angel kisses. Moles are brown raised bumps that can occur anywhere on the body. Café-au-lait spots are brown, oval birthmarks on the lower part of the body.

Grey-blue patches called melanocytosis (say "mel-uh-nuh-sy-TOW-sus") occur mainly on the lower back and buttocks. These spots can look like bruises, and people who see them may become concerned about child abuse. Be sure to tell any child care provider that your child has these birthmarks.

Hemangiomas (say "hee-man-jee-OH-muhs") are raised, blue, red, or purple birthmarks formed by a clump of blood vessels that can be any size or shape. Port-wine stains are pink-red at birth and then become a darker red-purple colour. They are formed by blood vessels that did not develop as they should. They can be large.

Talk to your child's doctor about whether to have birthmarks treated. Hemangiomas are the birthmarks most often treated. But many are not treated for the first couple of years of life. This is because most go away without any treatment or problems. Treatment can involve medicine to shrink the birthmark, laser therapy to stop it from growing, or surgery to remove it.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Have your child take medicines exactly as prescribed. You will get more details on the specific medicines your doctor prescribes.
  • Keep your child from scratching a raised birthmark. It may contain blood vessels that can bleed. If a birthmark bleeds, cover the area with a clean pad and apply gentle pressure.
  • Keep your child's fingernails trimmed to prevent scratching a birthmark.
  • Help your child understand that the birthmark is natural. Your child will accept the birthmark more easily if you are not embarrassed by it.
  • If the birthmark bothers you or your child, try using makeup or hairstyles to hide it.
  • Join a support group to share problems and solutions with other parents of children with birthmarks.
  • If your child still has problems because of a birthmark, think about having your child talk to a counsellor.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the birthmark.
    • Pus draining from the birthmark.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • The birthmark is bleeding.
  • The birthmark is changing in size or looks or starts to hurt.
  • Your child is having any problems.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.