American Academy of Dermatology
What Is a Vascular Birthmark?
Many babies have what are called "birthmarks" when they're born. In some cases they appear within the first few weeks of life. They can be brown, tan , blue, pink, or red. More than 10 in 100 babies have vascular birthmarks. These are made up of blood vessels bunched together in the skin. they can be flat or raises, pink, red, or bluish discoloration.
What Causes Birthmarks?
The exact causes are unknown. Most vascular birthmarks are no inherited, nor are they caused by anything that happens to the mother during pregnancy.
What Are the Different Types of Vascular Birthmarks?
There are different kinds of vascular birthmarks. Sometimes, the birthmark must be watched for several weeks or months before the specific type can be identified . the most common types of vascular birthmarks are macular stains, hemangiomas, and port wine stains. There are also many rare types of vascular birthmarks.
Your physician will call faint, mild red marks macular stains. They are the most common type of vascular birthmarks. They are also called "angel's kisses," when they are located on the forehead or eyelids. When they are found on the back of the neck, they're called "stork bites". They may also occur on the tip of the nose, upper lip or any other body location. They are pink and flat. Angel's kisses almost always go away by age two, but stork bites usually last into adulthood. These birthmarks are harmless and require no treatment.
The term "hemangioma" is used to describe many different kinds of blood vessel growths. Most dermatologists prefer to use hemangioma to refer to a common type of vascular birthmark. These marks do not usually appear immediately after birth, but become visible within the first few weeks of life. Hemangiomas are usually divided into two types: strawberry hemangiomas and cavernous hemangiomas.
A strawberry hemangioma is slightly raised, and bright red because the abnormal blood vessels are very close to the surface of the skin.
Cavernous hemangiomas have a blue color because the abnormal vessels are deeper under the skin. Hemangiomas are more common in females and in premature babies. They can be anywhere on the
face or body.
Complications of Hemangiomas
Occasionally, a hemangioma that's growing or shrinking rapidly can form an open sore or ulcer. These sores can be painful, and can become infected. It's very important to see your dermatologist who will decide if further treatment necessary and keep this sore clean and covered with antibiotic ointment and/or a dressing.
Treatment of Hemangiomas
There are several different types of treatments for hemangiomas that need care. No treatment is absolutely safe and effective. The potential benefits must be weighed against the possible risks.
The most widely used treatment for rapidly growing hemangiomas is corticosteroid medication. This is either injected or given by mouth. Long-term or repeated treatment may be necessary. Lasers can be used to both prevent growth of hemangiomas and remove hemangiomas. Hemangiomas with ores that will not heal can also be treated with lasers. New lasers are being developed and studied by dermatologists to treat this condition
The port wine stain is another type of vascular birthmark that occurs in 3 in 1,000 infants. It is sometimes called a nevus flammeus, or capillary hemangioma, But it should not be confused with a hemangioma. Port wine stains appear at birth. They are flat, pink, red, or purplish discolorations found most often on the face, neck, arms, or legs. They can be any size. Unlike hemangiomas, port-wine stains grow only as the child grows. Over time, port-wine stains may become thick and develop small bumps or ridges. Port-wine stains do not go away by themselves. They last a lifetime.
Complications of Port-Wine Stains
Port-wine stains on the forehead, eyelids or both sides of the face can be associated with glaucoma, and/or seizures. Glaucoma is increased pressure within the ye that, left untreated, can cause blindness these complications occur in less than one- fourth of those with port-wine stains of the forehead and eyelids. All infants with port-wine stain in those areas should have a thorough eye and brain examination.
Treatment of Port-Wine Stains
The use of cover-up makeup has been a common treatment for port-wine stains. Your doctor can provide you with more information about products that are made to cover up birthmarks. New types of laser have shown the best results with the least amount of risk and side effects. Laser treatment of port-wine stains is FDA-approved, and available at many centers around the country. For best results, treatment should begin as early as possible, even in infancy. Laser surgery is performed on an outpatient basis. Several treatments are usually required, given at two month intervals. Younger patients often require fewer treatments than adults. In about one-fourth of the patients, lasers can totally clear up the port-wine stain. Seventy percent will look better. For reasons that are not understood, a small number of patients will not respond well to laser therapy.