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Appearance of birth marks on the body of the child is a common phenomenon. As per an estimate, around 1 in every 10 children is born with a birth mark. The birth mark may be in the shape of a small mole or pigmented area. The pigment may be of blue, green or red color. A birth mark could be hereditary and may continue to appear from generation to generation, this may appear in a child even with a gap in a generation, and the strange part is that the location and size may be almost identical. Generally birthmarks appear during gestation or during the first few months of the life of the child.

What causes birthmarks on babies ?

It is a common question in the mind of everybody, especially in parents that where do birthmarks come from. There are old sayings that birthmarks signify omens and reflect on the future life of the person, or are left over from the past life, or some old ladies may be heard saying that the coloured marks may be due to something which the mother ate during pregnancy which remained undigested and got stuck on the skin of the child. There is no scientific explanation to any of these theories. The scientific explanation is that these may be formed due to malformation of some blood vessels etc., or may or may not be related to the trauma faced by skin during the child birth process.

Birth marks may be permanent and continue for the life of the person. Some birth marks are temporary and fade away with time. Birth marks may be caused by incorrect formation of blood vessels in a part of the body, they being too close or too far off from each other. The pigmented birth marks may be caused due to over growth of cells which provide pigments to the skin. Some of the common birth marks are:

Types of birthmarks:
  • Macular stains or salmon patches commonly called angel kiss are found on the face of the new born child. They are faint red marks on the forehead, cheeks, above upper lips or on the back of the neck or head of the child. These are vascular birth marks which fade by the time the child is 3 years of age.
  • Hemangiomas are other forms of birth marks found on the skin of new born babies. These are generally bright red in color and may appear at the time of birth or within few days of birth of the child. If these are deep under the skin they will appear bluish. These marks continue to grow during the first 6 months of the life of the child and fade away on their own by the time the child is about 10 years of age. The bigger ones may leave a scar on the skin. If on the exposed part of the body, plastic surgery may be required.
  • A pigmented type of birth mark is called Port wine stains. These are discoloured stains on any part of the body and generally found on face, arms or legs. They continue to grow and darken as the person ages and do not vanish on their own.
  • Another common birthmark often found on the skin of people with white skin is called café-au-lait spots. These are of the color of coffee with milk and can appear on any part of the body. If there is an occasional small spot on the skin of your child, it can be ignored. In case of multiple spots, medical attention is required as these may be due to generic disorder requiring correction.
  • Mongolian spots are bluish patches found on the lower back of children and are found more on the people with darker skin. These are temporary marks and fade away within first few years of birth.
  • Moles are common marks which may appear at the time of birth or at the later stages of life. Moles can be of different shapes and sizes. These could be black or brown in color and may be flat or raised. The larger moles may be a cause of worry if they continue to grow as these may develop into skin cancer but generally moles are not harmful and continue during the life cycle of any person.

Generally no treatment is required for birth marks. These tend to fade with time, as the person grows. However in case the marks are at a place where they give an ugly look, they can be cured by surgical process. Of late laser therapy has been successfully tried to cure birth marks. Laser treatment may not result in total elimination of marks but for sure they will become light in color. Stains caused due to deformation of blood vessels require surgical treatment. Moles can also be removed by minor surgical procedure.