You are here

What Those Birthmarks Mean

Some birthmarks have cute names, like "angel kisses" or "stork bites", but they can be scary for parents. Most are harmless, though, says Elizabeth McBurney, M.D., a dermatology professor at Tulane Health Services Center in New Orleans. Read on:

Type: Mongolian spot
Appearance: A blue-green or blue-gray flat area, usually on the lower back
How common: Most dark-skinned babies are born with a Mongolian spot.
Treatment: None; they are benign and usually disappear by age 4.

Type: Strawberry mark
Appearance: A flat red area that appears in the first month; grows for about six months
How common: Occurs in two out of every 100 babies; more common in females and twins
Treatment: Most disappear in a few years. Facial marks may need to be removed.

Type: Port-wine stain
Appearance: A flat, dark red malformation of blood vessels on the face or limbs
How common: Occurs in three out of every 1,000 children
Treatment: Port-wine stains don't go away, but laser surgery can remove them.

Type: Angel kisses and stork bites
Appearance: A flat pink area between the eyes (angel kiss) or on the neck (stork bite)
How common: Occurs in one out of every ten babies
Treatment: None; many disappear by the second birthday.

Type: Congenital nevus
Appearance: A dark brown or black mole that varies in size and shape
How common: One in every 100 Caucasian children is born with small nevi.
Treatment: Most are no big deal. Laser surgery can remove or lighten larger nevi.