Red birthmarks are skin markings created by blood vessels close to the skin surface. They develop before or shortly after birth.
Strawberry mark; Vascular skin changes; Angioma cavernosum; Capillary hemangioma; Hemangioma simplex
There are two main categories of birthmarks:
Hemangiomas are a common type of vascular birthmark. Their cause is unknown. Their color is caused by the growth of blood vessels at the site. Different types of hemangiomas include:
The main symptoms of birthmarks include:
Exams and Tests
A health care provider should examine all birthmarks. Diagnosis is based on how the birthmark looks.
Tests to confirm deeper birthmarks include:
Many strawberry hemangiomas, cavernous hemangiomas, and salmon patches are temporary and do not need treatment.
Port-wine stains may not need treatment unless they:
Most permanent birthmarks are not treated before a child reaches school age or the birthmark is causing symptoms. Port-wine stains on the face are an exception. They should be treated at a young age to prevent emotional and social problems. Laser surgery can be used to treat them.
Concealing cosmetics may hide permanent birthmarks.
Oral or injected cortisone may reduce the size of a hemangioma that is growing quickly and affecting vision or vital organs.
Other treatments for red birthmarks include:
Birthmarks rarely cause problems, other than changes in appearance. Many birthmarks go away on their own by the time a child reaches school age, but some are permanent. The following development patterns are typical for the different types of birthmarks:
The following complications can occur from birthmarks:
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Have your health care provider look at all birthmarks.
There is no known way to prevent birthmarks.
Habif TP. Vascular tumors and malformations. In: Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 23.
Paller AS, Mancini AJ. Vascular disorders of infancy and childhood. In: Paller AS, Mancini AJ, eds. Hurwitz Clinical Pediatric Dermatology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 12.
Patterson JW. Vascular tumors. In: Patterson JW, ed. Weedon's Skin Pathology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 38.
Review Date: 10/14/2018
Reviewed By: Michael Lehrer, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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