Birthmarks: Don't ignore changes in size or appearance
Birthmarks are darkened patches of skin that appear at birth or shortly after. While most birthmarks are harmless, some may be associated with serious complications.
The Massachusetts General Hospital lists these common types of birthmarks, and any associated risks:
- Cafe-au-lait spots are a light tan colour. More than three of these on the body could indicate a genetic condition called neurofibromatosis, which causes skin tumours.
- Strawberry hemangiomas are common, reddish in colour and are rarely related to health problems.
- Cavernous hemangiomas are puffy, bluish in colour and occur beneath the skin. Because they can indicate vascular problems, consult your physician.
- Macular stains are very light, pink or tan-coloured birthmarks that are very common and harmless.
- Moles are small dark brown or black spots that are very common. While these patches of pigmented skin cells rarely cause problems, they should be watched for changes in size or shape.
- Port-wine stains are pink, red or purple coloured patches of skin that are permanent. While they pose little health risk, they are often treated to minimize their appearance.