Birthmarks

FACTS ABOUT BIRTHMARKS:

What are birthmarks?

Birthmarks are accumulations of cells and structures that are visible near the time of birth. These birthmarks can be divided into pigmented (brown or black) birthmarks and vascular (red) birthmarks.

Are birthmarks dangerous?

Birthmarks are usually harmless and do not affect the health of the person. The times when birthmarks could be dangerous is if they affect the function of another body function. Sometimes a birthmark may affect one’s vision, cause bleeding, and affect breathing. Large pigmented birthmarks may increase the risk of skin cancer. These may need to be monitored or removed to reduce the risk of skin cancer.

How many people have birthmarks?

Pretty much everyone will have at least one birthmark. They vary in number and size. Birthmarks usually only become problematic if they reach a certain size or affect a bodily function.

Do birthmarks change over time?

Pigmented birthmarks do change over time. In fact, birthmarks have life cycles. At birth, pigmented birthmarks are typically barely apparent or light colored. As a child grows, the birthmark typically grows in proportion to the growth of the child. Around puberty, the birthmarks may become darker and thicker in response to the hormones. There may be additional hair growing out of the birthmark. Through adulthood, the birthmark continues to change and may grow a little thicker and taller. It begins to lose color and becomes lighter. The mature pigmented birthmark may look like a skin-colored bump without additional color.

Vascular birthmarks may grow and darken over the first two years of life. Some vascular birthmarks called hemangiomas tend to shrink and flatten over the first ten years of life and may disappear. Some vascular birthmarks may darken and thicken with age.

Are birthmarks contagious?

No, they are not contagious.

Will birthmarks spread to other parts of the body?

No, typically birthmarks stay in the area that they initially formed. They may change or grow slightly.

CAUSE:

Birthmarks are accumulations of cells or structures in the skin. The pigmented birthmarks are caused by cells called nevus cells, which are related to melanocytes. These nevus cells produce melanin (brown pigment) and growth factors which cause the darkening of the skin, thickening of the skin and stimulation of hair growth. Often times, children with many pigmented birthmarks have parents with pigmented birthmarks. The vascular birthmarks (red) are caused by accumulations of blood vessels. No one knows why these birthmarks form, but there is probably a genetic component since children with vascular birthmarks often have a parent with a vascular birthmark.

Pigmented Birthmarks Show Accumulation of Pigment Cells in the Skin

Pigmented Birthmarks Show Accumulation of Pigment Cells in the Skin

 

 

 

 

 

Port Wine Stain is a Type of Vascular Birthmark with Dilated Blood Vessels in the Skin

Port Wine Stain is a Type of Vascular Birthmark with Dilated Blood Vessels in the Skin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cost to Treat Birthmarks (Pigmented):

Over-the-Counter make-up
MAC, Dermablend
Monthly Cost- $10-$20

Surgical Treatments:
Excision: $250-$1500 (Depending on size)

Laser Treatments:
Laser resurfacing, Pigment Laser Removal
$300-$1000 per treatment, may require greater than six treatments

Nevus Outreach Inc: www.nevus.org/
American Academy of Dermatology: www.aad.org/

Cost to Treat Birthmarks (Vascular):

Over-the-Counter make-up:
MAC, Dermablend
Monthly Cost- $10-$20

Prescription Medication:
Propanolol, Timolol
May require hospitalization and doctor’s visits- $500-$5000

Surgical Treatments:
Excision: $500-$2500 (Depending on size and location)

Laser Treatments:
Laser resurfacing, Vascular Laser Removal
$500-$1500 per treatment, may require 1-5 treatments or greater.

Vascular Birthmarks Foundation: birthmark.org/
American Academy of Dermatology: www.aad.org/

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