Birthmarks may be present at birth or develop in infancy. They vary in colour and can be pink, red, brown, tan, or blue. More than ten percent of babies have vascular birthmarks, which are formed by increased number of blood vessels in the skin. Vascular Birthmarks can be raised or flat, red, pink, or a bluish colour. It is unknown what causes birthmarks. However, vascular birthmarks are neither inherited, nor caused by anything that occurred during pregnancy.
There are different kinds of vascular birthmarks. The most common types of vascular birthmarks are:
- MACULAR STAIN: Are generally flat, faint, pink, or mild red. When found on the eyelid, forehead, upper lip, or tip of nose are called “Angel’s Kisses” and typically disappear by age two. When found on the back of the neck, Macular Stain’s are commonly referred to as a “stork bite.While stork bites usually persist into adulthood, these are harmless birthmarks requiring no treatment.
- PORT-WINE STAINS: Occurring in 3 out of 1,000 newborns, port-wine stains are flat and can be purplish, red, or pink. As a child grows, so does the port-wine stain. In time, it can thicken and possibly develop small ridges or bumps. Port-wine stains are permanent, but can be treated at Dermatology on Bloor.
- HEMANGIOMAS: These marks become visible within the first few weeks of life. They are raised and range from bright red to a bluish-purple depending on how deep the vessels involved are. They are most commonly found in females, normally on the neck and head, but can be anywhere on the body. Unlike other vascular birthmarks, hemangiomas normally grow rapidly and continue up until the child is about a year old. After the first year, most hemangiomas will stop growing. They then begin to turn white and slowly shrink. Nearly half of hemangiomas (50%) are flat by age five. Nine out of ten (90%) are flat by age nine. Most hemangiomas do not require treatment. They eventually shrink by themselves and completely go away, but often, only a faint mark is left. However there are treatment options available for hemangiomas at Dermatology on Bloor.
Solutions for Vascular Birthmarks
It’s very important that a baby with a vascular birthmark be examined by a dermatologist as early as possible so that a correct diagnosis can be made and the possible need for treatment discussed. Some treatments options may include a topical corticosteroid medication or an oral ingestion of medications called beta-blockers, however a pulsed dye laser is the gold standard to improve vascular birthmarks in children and adults.