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Alternative Names Return to topStrawberry mark; Vascular skin changes; Angioma cavernosum; Capillary hemangioma; Hemangioma simplex
Definition Return to top
Red birthmarks are colored, blood vessel (vascular) skin markings that develop before or shortly after birth.
Causes Return to top
There are two main categories of birthmarks.
Hemangiomas are a common vascular birthmark. Their cause is unknown. The color results from the development of blood vessels at the site.
Strawberry hemangiomas (strawberry mark, nevus vascularis, capillary hemangioma, hemangioma simplex) may develop several weeks after birth.
Cavernous hemangiomas (angioma cavernosum, cavernoma) are similar to strawberry hemangiomas but they are deeper.
Salmon patches (stork bites) are extremely common, appearing on 30-50% of newborns.
A port-wine stain is a flat hemangioma made of dilated blood capillaries. Port wine stains on the face may be associated with Sturge-Weber syndrome.
Symptoms Return to top
The different types of birthmark have their own appearance and typical location:
Exams and Tests Return to top
A health care provider should examine all birthmarks. Diagnosis is based primarily on the appearance of the skin lesion.
Tests to confirm deeper birthmarks include:
Treatment Return to top
Many strawberry hemangiomas, cavernous hemangiomas, and salmon patches are temporary and do not need treatment.
The nevus flammeus type of hemangiomas may not need treatment unless it is disfiguring, psychologically distressing, painful, or it changes in appearance.
Concealing cosmetics (such as Covermark) may hide permanent birthmarks.
Oral or injected cortisone may reduce the size of a hemangioma that is growing quickly and obstructing vision or vital organs.
Permanent birthmarks are usually not treated unless they cause unwanted symptoms, or until a child is at least school age. Port wine stains on the face are an exception. They should be treated at a young age with a yellow pulsed-dye laser, to prevent psychological and social problems.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Birthmarks rarely cause problems, other than cosmetic changes. Many birthmarks go away on their own by the time a child is of school age, but some are permanent.
Strawberry hemangiomas usually grow quickly, stay the same size, and then go away. Ninety-five percent of strawberry hemangiomas disappear by the time the child is 9 years old. However, there may be some slight discoloration or puckering of the skin where a strawberry hemangioma was.
Some cavernous hemangiomas disappear on their own, usually as a child approaches school age.
Port wine stains are often permanent.
Salmon patches often fade as the infant grows. Patches on the back of the neck may not fade, but are usually not noticeable as the hair grows.
Possible Complications Return to top
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Have all birthmarks examined by a health care provider to determine the treatment, possible complications, and likely outcome.
Prevention Return to top
There is no known way to prevent birthmarks.Update Date: 10/3/2008 Updated by: Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.