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Birthmarks

Learn about every type of birthmark

While everyone has a birthmark or two, there is very little known about how they are caused or why we have them. They are described as a marking on the skin that develops even before birth, and come in many different shapes, sizes and colors. Some may have a raised appearance similar to skin lesions but most are generally flat or nearly flush with the skin.

Types of Birthmark

Some of the more interesting birthmarks include:

  • Café au lait. Often light brown or a milky coffee color and oval-shaped. May appear anywhere on the body and may or may not be present at birth. Some appear in early childhood and they don't fade with time. Having more than three of these types of birthmark may indicate the presence of neurofibromatosis.
  • Mongolian birthmark. This birthmark is flat and is most commonly blue in color with an irregular shape; most common among Turks and East Asians and was named after the Mongolians. Mongolian birthmarks have the dubious distinction of being occasionally mistaken as bruises resulting from child abuse.
  • Port-wine stain birthmark. These birthmarks may be anywhere from pale pink to a deep red wine color and often have an irregular appearance. They are large, present at birth and are caused by a deficiency in the nerves leading to the blood vessels in that area. Port-wine birthmarks may become thick, develop ridges with age and do not fade over time.
  • Stork bite birthmark. This birthmark is flat, pink or tanned in color and has an irregular shape. It can be located anywhere from the back of the neck and knee to the forehead and top lip. These tend to fade within the first year of infancy and have no health implications.
  • Strawberry birthmark. Also known as capillary hemangioma, this birthmark is identified by its raised red and lumpy appearance. They can be located anywhere on the body, but the vast majority occurs on the head or neck.

Birthmark Myths

Perhaps due to the mysteries behind their origins, many myths have been created to explain the meaning of birthmarks and why the different types exist. Some folklore states that birthmarks are created by the unsatisfied wishes of the mother, or if certain cravings (such as for strawberries to justify the appearance of a strawberry birthmark) aren't indulged during pregnancy. Another myth is that birthmarks in the child are created when the mother is pregnant and has a strange or particularly fearful experience.

Birthmark Removal

While most birthmarks are completely harmless, they may be located in a place like the palms of the hands, bottom of the feet or on the face, which can annoy or be inconvenient to those who bear them. Like mole removal, you should consult with a doctor or plastic surgeon for advice about removing a birthmark – never attempt to remove one yourself.

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