Your five-minute guide to newborn birthmarks

Mother and baby

Birth is quite a journey and it can leave its mark upon your baby – quite literally! Get the lowdown on baby birthmarks…

What are birth marks?

Sometimes babies are born with marks on their skin, most will fade while others will be permanent.

What do they look like?

There are several different kinds of birthmarks:

  • Dark or pale brown patches on newborns’ skin are fairly common. They tend not to fade and, like freckles, they usually get darker in the sun. They’re nothing to worry about and won’t need any treatment. Similarly, babies are sometimes born with moles, which are no cause for concern. It’s rare but keep an eye out and visit your doctor if they grow bigger, bleed or start to itch.
  • Stork marks, or vascular birthmarks, are made up of bunches of blood vessels under the skin. They’re found at the nape of the neck, forehead or on the eyelids. They can look a bit blotchy and are red or purple in colour. They appear on about 3% of newborns.
  • Strawberry birthmarks (also vascular) are slightly raised and appear red and dotty. They appear on about 10% of newborns.
  • Port-wine stains are flat, red or purple marks. They affect about three in 1,000 babies and are twice as common on girls.

What causes them?

Vascular birthmarks are caused by bunches of red blood vessels under the skin. Port wine stains are caused either by a lack of smooth muscle lining around thin walled blood vessels, or by a lack of nerve fibres to the blood vessels.

Do they hurt my baby?

They won’t cause your baby any discomfort but a port-wine stain around the eye should be monitored by a doctor to make sure it doesn’t cause any problems with vision. Talk to your midwife if you have any worries.

Can I treat them?

You don’t need to do anything to care for birthmarks. Stork marks and strawberry birthmarks usually fade within about two years. Port-wine stains are permanent, although they tend to fade over time and can be reduced with laser treatment.

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