woman with skin blemishes

Birthmarks are a common phenomenon, often appearing as distinctive spots or patches on the skin. These unique markings can be present at birth or develop shortly afterward. At Certified Dermatology, we frequently encounter questions about the origins and implications of birthmarks. So, where do birthmarks come from?

Understanding Birthmarks

Birthmarks are categorized into two main types: vascular birthmarks and pigmented birthmarks. Each type has a different origin and appearance.

Vascular Birthmarks: These are caused by abnormal blood vessels in or under the skin. Common examples include hemangiomas, port-wine stains, and salmon patches.

Pigmented Birthmarks: These result from an excess of pigment cells (melanocytes) in the skin. Examples include moles, café-au-lait spots, and Mongolian spots.

The Causes of Birthmarks

The exact cause of birthmarks is not entirely understood, but several factors may contribute to their development:

  • Genetics: Some birthmarks, particularly certain types of moles and café-au-lait spots, can run in families, indicating a genetic predisposition.
  • Vascular Development: Vascular birthmarks result from the abnormal development of blood vessels. For example, hemangiomas form when blood vessels multiply and cluster together.
  • Pigment Cell Distribution: Pigmented birthmarks are due to an overproduction or clustering of melanocytes, the cells responsible for skin color.

Are Birthmarks Harmful?

Most birthmarks are harmless and do not require treatment. However, some may need medical attention due to size, location, or growth pattern. For instance:

  • Hemangiomas: These can grow rapidly during the first year of life and may require treatment if they interfere with vision, breathing, or other vital functions.
  • Moles: While most moles are benign, it’s essential to monitor them for changes in size, shape, or color, as these can indicate skin cancer.

Certified Dermatology offers comprehensive evaluations and treatments for birthmarks to ensure your skin health and peace of mind.

Treatment Options

For those who wish to remove or reduce the appearance of birthmarks, several treatment options are available:

Laser Therapy: Effective for vascular birthmarks like port-wine stains, laser therapy can reduce redness and improve skin texture.
Surgical Removal: Large or bothersome birthmarks, especially moles, can be surgically removed.
Topical Treatments: Certain creams and ointments can help to lighten pigmented birthmarks over time.

When to See a Dermatologist

It’s a good idea to consult with a dermatologist at Certified Dermatology if you notice:

  • A birthmark that changes in size, shape, or color
  • Any birthmark that bleeds, itches, or causes discomfort
  • Large or rapidly growing birthmarks in infants

Birthmark Treatment At Certified Dermatology

Birthmarks are medically harmless areas of excess pigmentation that form on the skin for unknown reasons. While they do not pose any kind of medical threat, they can be cosmetically frustrating. Certified Dermatology can help. Understanding the types and causes of birthmarks can help you make informed decisions about your skin health. At Certified Dermatology, our dermatologists are here to provide expert advice and treatment options for all your dermatological needs. If you have concerns about a birthmark, contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Back to Blog
Contact us media
Accessibility: If you are vision-impaired or have some other impairment covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act or a similar law, and you wish to discuss potential accommodations related to using this website, please contact our Accessibility Manager at (732) 353-1727.