Menu   WellSpan Health

Health Library

Health Library

Birthmarks

Picture of a mother and child

What are birthmarks?

Birthmarks are areas of discolored and/or raised skin that are apparent at birth or within a few weeks of birth. Birthmarks are made up of malformed pigment cells or blood vessels.

Although the cause of birthmarks is not known, most of them are benign (noncancerous) and do not require treatment. Babies with birthmarks should be examined and diagnosed by a health care provider.

What are the most common types of vascular birthmarks?

The following are the most common types of vascular birthmarks:

  • Macular stains or salmon patches. These are characterized by pink to red marks that may appear anywhere on the body. Angel kisses and stork bites are the most common type of vascular birthmark:

    • Angel's kisses. Marks located on the forehead, nose, upper lip, and eyelids that usually disappear with age.

    • Stork bites. Marks on the back of the neck that usually disappear with age.

  • Hemangioma. A common vascular birthmark. Hemangiomas become visible within the first few weeks or months of life and continue to grow rapidly for about 6 to 9 months. Then, they gradually lose this red color and also shrink. They are called strawberry patch hemangiomas. By age 5, 50% resolve and 90% resolve by age 9 without any treatment. Hemangiomas that grow into other organs or structures or become ulcerated should be evaluated by your health care provider.

  • Port-wine stain (also called nevus flammeus). A port-wine stain is a flat, pink, red, or purple mark that appears at birth, often on the face, arms, and legs, and continues to grow as the child grows. Port-wine stains do not go away and often need treatment if located on the eyelid or forehead. Port-wine stains involving the face may cause eye problems and be associated with other developmental disorders.

What are the most common types of pigmented birthmarks?

The following are the most common types of pigmented birthmarks:

  • Moles (also known as congenital nevi). These can be skin-colored, brown, or black, flat or raised and small or large. They can happen anywhere on the body. Moles can also happen in adulthood, but only moles that are present at birth are considered birthmarks. Other nevi that behave like congenital nevi can appear within the first 2 years of life. Congenital nevi can develop into cancer later in life, with larger nevi having a higher risk of becoming cancerous.

  • Cafe-au-lait spots. This is French for coffee with milk. These are usually oval-shaped and light brown or black. Typically these fade with age and are not a problem. However, many of them grouped together can be a sign of other health issues and should be examined by a health care provider. 

  • Mongolian spots. These are blue or blue-gray spots on the lower back or buttocks. They are most common in babies with darker skin, like African-American or Asian babies. They can be mistaken for bruises and they usually fade with age.  

Birthmarks - WellSpan Health

Online Medical Reviewer: Bass, Pat F. III, MD, MPH
Online Medical Reviewer: Berman, Kevin, MD, PhD
Last Review Date: 2015-05-17T00:00:00
Last Modified Date: 2015-06-24T00:00:00
Posting Date: 2008-11-30T00:00:00
Published Date: 2015-06-24T00:00:00
Last Review Date: 2007-03-30T00:00:00
© 2015 WellSpan Health. All Rights Reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

Are you sure you would like to cancel?

All information will be lost.

Yes No ×

About the provider search

This search will provide you with WellSpan Medical Group and Northern Lancaster County (Ephrata) Medical Group primary care physicians and specialists. If we don’t have a WellSpan Medical Group physician to meet your criteria, the search will expand to include community physicians who partner with WellSpan Medical Group physicians through the WellSpan Provider Network or provide care to patients on the Medical Staffs of WellSpan’s Hospitals.

×

Schedule Your Next Appointment Online with MyWellSpan

Use your MyWellSpan patient portal any time to view available appointments, and pick the date and time that best suits your schedule.

Go to MyWellSpan

New to this practice?

If you don't have a WellSpan primary care provider and would like to schedule a new patient appointment with a provider who is accepting patients, just log into your MyWellSpan account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to see the offices that are accepting new patients in relation to your zip code. If you are not enrolled in MyWellSpan, go to www.mywellspan.org, call 1-866-638-1842 or speak with a member of the staff at a participating facility to sign up. New patient scheduling not available at all practices/programs.

Already a patient at this practice?

If you already have a relationship with a WellSpan practice, simply log into your account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to schedule an appointment with any provider or practice that already counts you as a patient. Online scheduling varies by practice/program.

×