Birthmarks are blemishes on the skin that are noticeable at birth, or shortly afterwards. A significant number of newborns have birthmarks. Medicine has yet to figure out the cause of birthmarks in general, but certain subtypes are explained. Science believes it may have to do with the release of certain proteins during the gestation period.
The most common type of birthmarks are vascular birthmarks, red, pink or purple blemishes, generally caused by abnormal blood vessels or capillaries below the skin’s surface. Other types are pigmented birthmarks, usually presenting themselves as dark or brown spots along the skin’s surface, caused by a cluster of pigment cells in one concentrated area of the skin.
Complications of Birthmarks
Birthmarks are mostly harmless, and completely benign. They won’t necessarily affect daily activities, and most will generally fade away with time. However, some birth marks such as “strawberries” (red “bump” on the head many babies are born with) can become open wounds or leave scars as they fade. Certain types of melanocytic nevi, (often looking like a brown or black patch of skin. It appears as a mole in some individuals, sometimes with hair growing out of it), can develop into malignant forms of cancer down the line.
However, they mostly affect people cosmetically. Many choose to have them removed for aesthetic reasons, especially if they are in a prominent region of the body, such as the face, hands, arms, neck, or genital area.
Most will generally fade away with time. However, if the birthmark is causing health problems or self-esteem issues than it should be removed by your dermatologist. After careful examination, your doctor will make the determination as to what type of birthmark you have and what procedure(s) will be necessary for its removal.
Some treatments are:
- Corticosteroids: injected into the birthmark or taken in a pill form, they can stop it from growing and cause it to shrink.
- Prescription medication such as Interferon may be needed to stop a birthmark’s growth, and shrink it.
- Laser skin resurfacing can help you stimulate collagen growth as well as the growth of new, fresh skin. This will cause any blemishes on the outer dermal layer to simply peel away with the rest of the outer skin layer. Commonly used for birthmarks that are less raised and closer to the skin’s surface.
- Excision surgery: if other techniques don’t work then surgery might be necessary. This should only be done in extreme cases or if the birthmark is causing health issues.
In order to fix the skin cosmetically your dermatologist may also recommend the use of chemical peels, skin resurfacing or dermal fillers as well.