What is a Birthmark, Know its Types, Ways to Get Rid of it?

What Is a Birthmark?

Birthmark refers to a spot or a mark at some part of the body which is present since the time of birth of an individual. It may be a single spot or there may be multiple such spots spread throughout the body. The size of the spots is variable in that while some Birthmarks are extremely small and barely visible others may be as big as the size of a penny. At times, a large Birthmark may be present on the face or other exposed part of the body. Such Birthmarks may look ugly and may dent the confidence of an individual quite significantly. The individual may feel shy and avoid going out in the community as a result of the Birthmarks.

What Is a Birthmark?

Types of Birthmark

Medically, there are two types of Birthmarks namely vascular and pigmented.

Vascular Birthmarks: These types of Birthmarks are normally caused as a result of some malformation in the blood vessel and appear when the blood vessels are either too wide or too numerous to count. Vascular Birthmarks are also of various characteristics and texture which are as mentioned below:

  • Macular Stains: These types of Vascular Birthmarks are pink colored marks usually found in the back of the neck, eyelids, or forehead. These Birthmarks usually fade away as the child grows. These Birthmarks do not require any treatment.
  • Hemangiomas: These are one of the common Birthmarks that occur in a child. They can appear above the skin which is called superficial hemangioma or occur deep in the skin which is called deep hemangiomas. Superficial Hemangiomas are red in color while Deep Hemangiomas have a bluish tinge to it. They may occur anywhere in the body and have no specific location. These Birthmarks require treatment at the discretion of the individual since they do not go away on their own.
  • Port-Wine Stains: These types of Birthmarks are magenta in color and usually appear on the face, neck, arms or legs. These types of Birthmarks are quite variable in their size and tend to grow as the child grows. By the time the child reaches adulthood, these Birthmarks may look quite ugly when they become thicker and darker. These types of Birthmarks are permanent and do not go away. They are often associated with medical conditions like glaucoma or seizures and will appear on the forehead, eyelids or on the sides of the face.

Pigmented Birthmarks: These types of Birthmarks are pigmented and are caused by excess production of melanin in the body. Melanin is a substance which determines the skin color of an individual. Pigmented Birthmarks are of several types as well including:

  • Café au Lait Spots: These are brown spots which can appear anywhere in the body and can increase as the child grows. A more serious medical condition can be suspected if there are more than one large Café au Lait spot across the body. Such Birthmarks need to be diagnosed and treated
  • Mongolian Spots: These types of pigmented Birthmarks are normally present in children of Asian, American Indian, African, or Hispanic descents. These Birthmarks are blue or black in color and fade away with age.
  • Moles: These are one of the most common types of pigmented Birthmarks present at birth. They tend to permanent and stay throughout the life of the individual. They may be black or brown in color and in some cases have hairs growing from them. Abnormally large moles puts an individual at risk for developing melanoma later in life

How to Get Rid Of Birthmark?

There are various ways to get rid of Birthmarks if an individual wants to get rid of them.

Corticosteroids: Hemangiomas that become quite large and look ugly can be treated with medications like corticosteroids. These steroids are either injected directly into the hemangioma or taken orally. It slows down the growth of the Birthmark and makes them shrink within a couple of weeks. It should be noted here that corticosteroids have their own side effect profile and can lead to hypotension, insomnia, and other health related concerns.

Laser Treatments: Laser Therapy is the most preferred way to get rid of Birthmarks. This is especially for Port-Wine Birthmarks. After a few laser treatments, the Birthmarks become quite light and barely visible but they may not go away completely. In some cases, the Birthmarks may return posttreatment and may require laser therapy again. It is recommended to start laser treatments in the childhood itself for optimal results and get rid of Birthmarks. A Birthmark which is lighter in shade requires about three to four rounds of laser treatment while a dark shaded Birthmark may require up to eight rounds to completely get rid of Birthmarks.

Cryosurgery and Electrodesiccation: This is yet another popular method of getting rid of Birthmarks. In Cryosurgery, the affected area is put under extremely cold temperature while in Electrodesiccation the tissue of the affected area is completely destroyed through high frequency current flow. This technique is quite effective in getting rid of Birthmarks.

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