Types of Birthmarks: Vascular Red/Pink Birthmark- Salmon Patch & Pigmented Brown Birthmark- Café-au-Lait, Causes & Removal

Learn about the various types including vascular (red or pink)birthmarks such as salmon patch and pigmented birthmarks which include Café-au-Lait. In addition find how they form/causes plus ways to remove or treat.

The formation of birthmarks on new-born’s body is pretty familiar. Looks much like a mole or a spot, birthmarks are usually classified as a benign irregularity on the skin, which either appears with the birth or shortly after it (mostly within the first month of the child’s birth). These skin irregularities can develop anywhere in the skin and is essentially caused by the overgrown blood vessel or melanocytes, fat, fibroblasts or keratinocytes. It can also cause from a smooth muscle which is overgrown.

types of birthmarks
birthmark pictures

Based on their nature of formation, dermatologists have classified birthmarks into two categories-Vascular birthmarks (originates from increased blood vessels and include macular stains i.e. salmon patches) and Pigmented birthmarks (develops as a result of skin pigment cells like, café au lait spots, and Mongolian spots).

Vascular Types of Birthmarks, Salmon Patch (stork mark), Hemangioma& Port wine

What is a Vascular Birthmark? Why Red, Pick or Purple?

As the name suggests, vascular birthmark can be defined as a lesion, caused by the malformation of blood vessels at the time of birth. Many a times, doctors use different terms to describe such lesions as they make rapid advancement. Though benign, formation of such unusual structures requires medical intervention. It’s highly recommended to see a dermatologist if your kid develops some of these vascular birthmarks. Correct diagnosis is required to treat it. Generally, Vascular Birthmarks are of three types depending on their formation- Salmon patch or stork mark, Hemangiomas and Port wine.

Often the vascular birthmarks come in red, pink and purple colour. Though the actual reason of the formation of birthmarks is yet not known, it’s been seen that the abnormal blood vessels in or under the skin accumulates to form a coloured mark. The clusters of pigment cells are also responsible for this.

Salmon patch (stork mark) Causes & Removal

What is Salmon patch Birthmark


A salmon patch or stork mark/bite is a vascular birth mark that appears on a newborn’s body during or within a week of its birth. It usually appears on the neck, forehead, and eyelids of the baby and becomes more noticeable when the baby cries. Stork bite is clinically known as nevus simplex, which is the most common vascular birthmark that affects around half of the babies across the world.

However, a salmon patch is usually a temporary patch on the skin and is likely to fade completely within a few (mostly 18) months. But, the spots that appear on the forehead take several years to fade away completely. In some cases, a medical intervention comes to the rescue. But, a vascular stork mark at the back of the neck never fades away.

Dermatologists can diagnose this type of vascular birthmark simply by looking at it. Hence, it does not require any invasive or non-invasive tests. However, if any spots last for more than three years, you should contact the paediatric dermatologist.

Causes of Stork mark

As mentioned earlier, the potential cause behind the development of vascular birthmarks are unknown. So is true with stork bites or salmon patches. According to the clinical terms, a stork bite happens from stretched or dilated blood vessels of a particular area. Thus, when a child cries or its muscles are contracted, the underlying dilated blood vessels get more prominent. They usually disappear on applying mild pressure.

Salmon Patch Removal/ treatment

A salmon patch or a stork mark hardly requires any treatment, as these are likely to fade away within a short span of time. However, the complication arises, when the symptoms last longer than 3 years. In such cases, a laser removal of the mark becomes the only way out.

A laser removal is essentially painless and hence it needs no anaesthetic. The most your child can face is a mild tingling sensation where the laser is applied. There’s no hospital stay and the bruising and tenderness disappear within a few weeks.

Though there’s no certain age group for the laser treatment, a medical consultation with the specialist is extremely important, if the child is going through a laser before completing 5 years of age.

Hemangiomas (Strawberry & Cavernous) & Port Wine Birthmark

Unlike stork marks, haemangioma can be defined as a vascular tumour that occurs during the birth or early after the birth. Looks like red vascular growth, the haemangiomas are pretty common these days. It is usually painless and being a benign growth, they do not cause any serious health hazard. Though the exact cause of its development is yet unknown, dermatologists have found an extensive development of normal or abnormal vessels filled with blood. In addition, studies have revealed that oestrogen have a key role in haemangiomapropagation. However, in most cases, these red vascular growths disappear by the age of five. If it’s a penetrating growth, it takes about twelve years to get completely vanished.

Depending on the nature of their formation, haemangiomas can be classified into three categories- Strawberry Haemangioma, Cavernous haemangioma and Port Wine birthmark.

Strawberry Hemangioma- They can appear at any part of the body, but most commonly they appear on the scalp, face, back, or chest. These are red, closely packed blood vessels, which are mostly absent during the time of birth, but starts growing within a few weeks of the child birth. They automatically subsides by the time your child reaches 10 years of age. It does not leave any serious side effects except a slightly discoloured skin at the place where it was formed.

Cavernous hemangiomas- Though like strawberry haemangioma, these lesions are deeply rooted. These are red-blue spongy mass of tissue filled with blood. Cavernous lesions can appear at any part of the body and usually disappear on their own by the time child reaches the school going age. However, you need a medical help, if the mark does not disappear on its own after an extended period of time.

Port Wine Birthmark- Port –wine birthmarks are more like flat purple-to-red stains, resulting from dilated blood capillaries. They are of widely varying sizes and mostly occur on the face. However, these birthmarks do not disappear automatically, if not treated. In some cases, they are permanent marks.

Pigmented Brown Birthmark Types: Café-au-Lait spots, Congenital moles & Mongolian Spots

What are pigmented Birthmarks and why are they Brown?

Unlike the vascular malformation on your skin, the pigmented birthmarks are more like a patch or spots on the skin. They are flat, smooth and appear in a variety of colors, though they are mostly brown. Pigmented birthmarks are of different types- light brown cafe-au-lait spots, congenital moles and bruised or bluish Mongolian spots.

The pigmented spots usually grow in cluster instead of being thorough placed all over the skin. These are mostly formed due to the concentration of melanin in particular area are the skin. Regular exposure to the sun, makes them worse, which over time makes the color of these skin patches brown or black.

Café-au-Lait Spots, Pictures, Causes & Removal

Café-au-Lait spots can be referred to as a macular growth and hyperpigmented lesions that appear on a baby’s skin within a week of its birth. These are usually brown in color, resembles more like a cup of coffee with milk. It’s the color from where the spot derives its name.The borders of these patches are usually uniform in shape.

Café-au-Lait Birthmark Pictures/Images

Café-au-Lait-Spots Causes, picture
Café-au-Lait spots Image [synapse.koreamed.org]
Though the symptom develops in early infancy, these are not exclusively noticeable at that time. The spots become more evident as the child reaches 2 years of age. Usually, café-au-lait is increasingly common in patients with neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), which is the most common neurocutaneous syndrome. The spots are also noticeable in people without suffering from neurocutaneous syndrome, but you need a clear clinical diagnosis to know if these are neurocutaneous syndrome or not. However, such spots can also appear in people suffering from tuberous sclerosis, McCune-Albright syndrome and Fanconi anemia.

Most of the time, these are benign growth and does not require clinical procedure. But, people with NF1 syndrome can be removed through lasers.The laser methods, which are mostly used for the removal process include PDL, QS Nd: YAG, Er: YAG, QSRL, and QSAL. However, the laser treatment can end up with risk of permanent hyperpigmentation.

Congenital Moles Causes & Treatment

Congenital moles occur during the birth of the child. These are mostly caused by the proliferation of benign melanocytes in the dermis, epidermis or both of it. While congenital moles usually do not pose any serious threat, the only risk it incurs is the ensuing formation of melanoma. However, this form of malignancy is pretty unlikely in prepubertal children.

As far as the treatment is concerned, congenital nevi requires surgical excision in order to reduce the risk of melanoma primarily. Minimizing the scarring is a secondary requirement though. It’s better to go for a surgery, when the mole is small in size because large moles can create complications during surgery.

Mongolian Spots

Mongolian spots are bluish flat irregular patch on skin that are usually benign. Though they appear at the time of birth, it disappears by the time the child reaches at the age of three. The small area of the buttocks and a larger area on the back are mostly affected. Caused from the concentration of melanocytes, these spots hardly require any surgical removal procedure. However, dermatologists prescribe some creams and ointment, which might get the spots disappeared over time.

Needless to say, the cause of birthmarks is not exactly known, but these are not hereditary. Rather, these are more of a formation caused by localized imbalances on the skin.

Interesting related information about birthmarks

  1. What is a Birthmark? Does everyone have Birthmarks? How they form , Drew Brees, Bill Corgan, Celebrities & Babies+Pictures
  2. Mongolian Birthmark/Spot on Babies, Meaning, Pictures, Myths, Removal & Treatment
  3. Strawberry Hemangioma Birthmark Pictures, Meaning, Causes, Removal + Treatment
  4. Birthmark Myths & Interesting Facts about Birthmarks
  5. Port Wine Stain Birthmark Removal/Treatment, Cost, Causes +Pictures











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