Birthmarks are congenital skin blemishes present at birth, in simple words they are in born marks. Birthmarks can occur anywhere on the skin, as a result of overgrowth of either melanocyte, blood vessels or fibroblast and are generally harmless. For cosmetic reasons birthmarks are generally not desired. Fortunately, modern techniques eliminate or reduce the effects of birthmarks in a safe and also in an effective manner.
There are basically 2 types of birthmarks: Pigmented and vascular birthmarks
PIGMENTED BIRTHMARKS; these are usually brown and are caused by the clustering of pigment cells include moles, café au lait spots, and Mongolian spots.
Moles. Moles are sometimes called “beauty marks." As they are usually small, round brown spots, but they sometimes can be larger and can be of different colours. Moles may be flat or raised above the skin like a slight bump. Moles occur when there is an irregular accumulation of melanocytes in the skin. But not all moles are birthmarks, we pay more attention to moles as there is a tendency for a mole to evolve to become cancerous. A cancerous mole is termed melanoma.
café au lait spots. Cafe-au-lait (pronounced cafay oh lay) This is French for “coffee with milk,” which is a decent visual descriptor of this birthmark. Cafe-au-lait spots are light brown, exactly chocolate-milk colour on light skin or the colour of black coffee on darker skin. They vary in size, and are often oval-shaped with smooth surface and typically located on the torso, buttocks and legs. They may fade with age, but it’s rare for them to totally disappear.
Mongolian spots. These types of spots are kind of grey-blue. Most times they occur on the backs or bottoms of babies with darker skin. They can look like bruises. Usually fade away, however sometime they may stick around till adult-hood.
VASCULAR BIRTHMARKS – Vascular birthmarks are red, pink, or purple blemish on the skin, caused by abnormal blood vessels formation under the skin, which includes macular stains (salmon patches), haemangiomas (strawberry), and Port-wine stains.
Macular stains (salmon patches). These are usually flat and pinkish or red (like salmon) marks. They are called “angel's kisses." When they occur on the face and "stork bites" (red spots that look like bite marks) when they occur on the neck. Normally they fade away with age.
Haemangiomas (strawberry). It's a big word (pronounced he-man-gee-oh-ma), and sounds scary, but these birthmarks pose no health threat. There are two variants of this birthmark:
- Strawberry haemangiomas, they occur superficial on the skin, bright red in colour and look like the fruit, hence the name.
- These once are located deeper in the skin, bluish-purple colour and appear as raised marks.
The deep kind shows up after a baby is born. Within the first year, both types can get bigger and bigger, which might be a little scary for parents. However, the good news is most haemangioma usually start shrinking and become flat by age 10 and some become flat even earlier, leaving a light mark behind.
Port-wine stains. These marks are called “Port-wine stains” because of their wine or grape juice (pink, red or purple) colour as seen at birth, they are usually located on the face, begin as pink-red at birth, but become a darker red-purple eventually. These marks usually don’t fade away, but will often get larger as kids grow.
Nobody really knows what exactly causes of birthmarks. The general scientific consensus is that vascular birthmarks are not hereditary and birthmarks are less common in people of Asian descent as compared to individuals from other parts of the world.
There are several myths about birthmarks around the world. Birthmarks in most cultures are believed to be as a result of unsatisfied cravings & wishes of the mother during pregnancy. For example, if a pregnant woman does not satisfy a sudden wish or craving for strawberries, it's said that the infant might bear a strawberry mark.
Some other myths associated with birthmarks are that they are occur when an expectant mother sees something strange, or experiences a great deal of fear, sometimes called a maternal impression, some believe birthmark appears when the pregnant mother touches a part of her body during a solar eclipse. So, is it true? Well they’re called myths for a reason.
Most birthmarks would usually fade away without any need for treatment. However, if the birthmark persists and makes you uncomfortable in anyway, the following may recommend treatment.
Medical Pulsed Light / Q-switched Nd:YAG laser - All laser and light treatments offered at Gem Clinic for pigmentation problems are gentle in nature. Therefore, the downtime is shorter and pain during procedure is minimal.
Depigmenting injection – We only use FDA-approved ingredients for injection
Oral depigmenting therapy – Our oral therapy is unique in the sense that it can be given alone or in combination with other treatment modalities to ensure best response to pigmentation treatment.
Topical skin lighteners – Our Mediglow skincare range has been proven to be effective, even in stubborn pigmentation cases
Topical sun block – We offer sunblocks with minimum SPF30 that offers broad spectrum UV protection. Our sunblocks are non greasy, non comedogenic and gentle on the skin, even for sensitive skin types.