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  • pattykwon

Is that a... birthmark?

Updated: May 6, 2021



Despite its name, a birthmark is not always present at birth. Here are samples of common ones you may see in your newborn and unusual ones to watch for.


Nevus Simplex

  • Flat reddish marks with indistinct borders.

  • Mostly commonly seen on upper eyelids, between the eyebrows, and less frequently above the upper lip.

  • All will fade with time although may never resolve completely. Most will only be visible when your child is crying or upset.


Stork bite

  • Flat reddish marks, often a bit darker than nevus simplex, with indistinct borders.

  • Seen on the back of the lower scalp or upper neck.

  • Often will NOT fade away but will be covered up by hair.


Dermal melanocytosis

  • Flat bluish, greenish, or grayish marks, often on the lower back and buttocks but can be present on any part of the body. Facial marks are rare.

  • More commonly seen in babies of Asian or Hispanic descent.

  • Will fade gradually with age in most children although some continue to have them into adulthood.


Strawberry hemangioma

  • Bright red textured lesion that is usually NOT present at birth but appear within the first 2-6 weeks of life.

  • Represents collection of rapidly growing blood vessels within the skin.

  • May have one or multiple on any part of the body including face, inside of lips or nose.

  • Most will grow with your child until age 18-24 months, then gradually regress over several years.

  • Most do not require intervention as they fade on their own

  • Some may present with a deeper component underneath the skin (see "Deep Hemangioma" below).

  • Indications for treatment include frequent bleeding (rare), rapid growth, location that may potentially compromise other functions or risk less desirable cosmetic outcomes later on (any in the "beard" distribution, neck, face).


Deep hemangioma

  • Bluish or purplish bump underneath the surface of the skin that is usually not visible at birth but may become more obvious within the first few weeks of life.

  • Similar to the strawberry hemangioma, its more superficial counterpart, it is a collection of rapidly growing blood vessels within the skin.

  • May present only as a deep component (as a bump under the skin) whereas some will also have a strawberry hemangioma overlying it.

  • Most do not require any intervention as they fade on their own like the strawberry hemangioma.

  • Indications for treatment include rapid growth, location that may potentially compromise other functions or risk less desirable cosmetic outcomes later on (any in the "beard" distribution, neck, face).


Cafe-au-lait spot

  • Flat brown "coffee-colored" marks with clear borders present at birth, although more may appear with age.

  • One or more may be present and vary in size.

  • They are usually harmless but if you notice them growing rapidly in size or several new ones popping up in a row, please let your pediatrician know!


Portwine Stain

  • Pink to red mark with very clear borders, usually affecting one side of the face or body and present at birth.

  • Usually isolated mark but can sometimes be associated with underlying abnormalities so your pediatrician may refer you for some tests depending on the location of the stain and associated exam findings.

  • Does not regress with age and can actually darken as your child gets older.

  • Interventions are available for cosmetic purposes.


Nevus Sebaceous

  • Orange-tan, hairless, oval-shaped lesion on the scalp, usually present at birth although may not be very obvious at first, especially if your baby has no or minimal hair.

  • There is a risk of the lesion progressing to become a harmless or even malignant tumor during adolescence.

  • Surgical removal is usually recommended, although not urgently.


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