Thursday, September 02, 2010

Birthmarks don't have to be forever

Boy are birthmarks surrounded by crazy legends and theories. Some think if a woman is craving a food and touches her stomach before she eats it—birthmark. Touch your tummy during an eclipse—ooops. Spill wine on yourself—too bad for junior.

Birthmarks come in a couple of types, according to Joshua Fox, MD, a leading dermie. About 10% of newborns have them, girls five times more than boys.

Macular stains—angel kisses or stork bites—are one kind. Strawberry marks and port wine stains are two others.

Strawberry marks are hemangiomas—which can, repeat can, portend other ailments coming. These are fed by blood vessels, which doctors now think can be strangled off, much as some cancerous tumors.

Macular and port wines rarely fade out on their own. They are tangles of teeny vessels under the skin.You can close them off, but they may come back.

Port wine stains on eyelids, foreheads, or scalps often warrant an MRI of the infant to check for a syndrome that can cause developmental delays or glaucoma.

This is rare.

A doctor will advise you on how to approach a large birthmark. But don’t fret, Mom—it’s not your fault or anything you did…even watch an eclipse.

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