Everything You Need To Know About Birthmarks
Birthmarks appear in many forms and normally describe several different types of skin discolouration that are either present at birth or develop shortly after a baby has been born. They are often found on several areas of the body and appear in various shapes, sizes and colours, with some getting bigger over time and others fading with age.
Should I be worried?
In most instances, the presence of a birthmark on the skin is nothing to worry about and should pose no real threat to your physical health. There are occasions, however, when these need to be removed from the body, and this is something that normally takes place as soon as they are found to be causing a problem. Birthmarks may also be indicative of a range of rare medical conditions such as neurofibromatosis or Sturge-Weber syndrome.
Although the removal of birthmarks isn’t usually necessary, their visibility on the skin can cause those who have them to feel self-conscious about how they appear to others – something which can have a significant impact on all areas of daily life. For these people, many leading dermatologists – Dr Firas included – offer a number of solutions, including a selection of cosmetic products, medications and treatments such as laser therapy.
Pigmented and vascular birthmarks
As mentioned above, birthmarks present themselves in different ways and can normally be divided into two subcategories: pigmented birthmarks and vascular birthmarks.
Pigmented birthmarks occur when the cells responsible for producing pigment – the natural substance that gives the skin its colour – cluster together in one area of the body. Vascular birthmarks tend to form on parts of the skin that contain an abnormal concentration of blood vessels, some of which appear wider than normal.
There is no definitive cause for the emergence of either of these classes of birthmark and their formation should not be attributed to anything that happened during pregnancy or throughout labour.
More specific types of birthmark
These two categories contain several common forms of birthmark and we will now explore these in further detail.
In terms of pigmented birthmarks, these can appear as café-au-lait spots, moles or Mongolian blue spots.
Café-au-lait spots take their name from the French for “coffee with milk” and this is because of their pale-to-medium brown colour. They are usually oval in shape and can appear almost anywhere on the body, demonstrating a particular liking for the legs, torso and buttocks. Although these can increase in size over time, café-au-lait spots should only ever really be a cause for concern if they appear in numbers of six more as this can suggest the existence of an underlying health condition such as neurofibromatosis.
The skin of most people will play host to many moles over the course of a lifetime, but those that are present on the skin at birth are known as congenital moles and will remain there for good. Like normal roles, they can be raised, bumpy or flat and the larger of these may lead to the development of melanoma in later life.
Mongolian blue spots are typically found on darker skin, are blue-grey in colour and will most often be located on the lower back. These aren’t normally anything to worry about and will usually disappear by age 4.
The most regularly occurring types of vascular birthmark are port-wine stains, salmon patches and hemangiomas.
Port-wine stains are large, flat marks that tend to affect the face or the neck. Initially pink-red, these are likely to deepen in colour and are also known to increase in size and thickness over time. Individuals with port-wine stains often report that the skin affected feels rough to the touch, with marks that cover the eyes normally needing treatment to reduce the risk of glaucoma and other problems with vision.
Said to affect over 30% of newborn babies, salmon patches – known medically as macular stains – take on the form of small, flat and pink marks on several areas of the skin. Often more visible when a baby cries, they are typically located on the eyelids, around the eyes or on the back of the neck and will normally decrease in prominence without the need for medical intervention.
Hemangiomas are characterised by the development of raised red lumps on the head, back or neck and can often rapidly increase in size throughout their existence. These lumps can also occur internally. Unless they interfere with breathing or feeding or lead to problems with vision, hemangiomas are usually left to disappear of their own accord and aren’t usually present on the skin past the age of 9.
As London’s finest dermatologist, Dr Firas has operated in Harley Street for many years. Throughout an extensive career, he has guided patients presenting with a plethora of birthmark-related concerns to a place where they are more satisfied with how they look and prides himself on his ability to help people feel much more comfortable in their own skin.
During your initial consultation with Dr Firas, he will assess your birthmark and ask you a series of questions about your medical history before devising an appropriate treatment plan that fully addresses your concerns and sets you on the path back to confidence. As a laser specialist, Dr Firas is likely to recommend a type of laser therapy but may also be able to oversee an alternative course of treatment more suited to your needs.
To book in for your initial consultation, call 0208 191 8871 or visit his website today.Back to blog