What Are Birthmarks?

Birthmarks are pigmented spots present at birth or soon after, depending on the underlying types of cells (blood vessels or pigment). Two main types of birthmarks appear on the skin: vascular birthmarks and pigmented birthmarks. Vascular birthmarks are caused by abnormal blood vessels in the skin. They can be flat or raised, ranging from pink to red, purple, or blue. Caused by an overgrowth of pigment-producing skin cells, pigmented birthmarks can be elevated or flat in texture and range in color from tan, brown, or black.

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Child with a birthmark near her eyebrow

Who Gets Birthmarks?

Birthmarks can occur in anyone, regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity. They are quite common and affect approximately one in ten babies. Some types of birthmarks are more common in specific populations, and the colors can range from bluish-gray, pink, red, or light brown, depending on your skin tone. Birthmarks are typically harmless and do not require treatment. However, some birthmarks may be associated with underlying medical conditions, such as neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder that causes nerve tumors.

Birthmark Treatment Options

Treatment options depend on the size, type, location, and severity of the birthmark, as well as the patient's age and overall health. Sometimes, treatment may not be necessary, and the birthmark may fade or disappear over time. However, in cases where treatment is desired or medically necessary, the following options are available.

Laser Therapy

Laser therapy is the most common treatment for birthmarks and uses high-energy light to target and destroy the blood vessels or pigment cells causing the birthmark. You may require multiple treatments over several weeks or months to get the desired results.


In some cases, surgery may be the best option to remove a birthmark causing functional or cosmetic problems. This may involve excision (cutting out) of the birthmark or a skin graft to replace the skin on the affected area.

Topical Treatments

Topical medications may lighten or reduce the size of some types of birthmarks, such as hemangiomas, a kind of vascular birthmark consisting of a collection of blood vessels in the skin.


Observation may be the best course of action if your birthmark isn’t causing any problems. This involves monitoring the birthmark over time to ensure it is not changing or growing.

Does Your Birthmark Bother You?

There are many options to help remove or minimize the appearance of birthmarks. If you are concerned about the aesthetic of a birthmark, please make an appointment with our board-certified providers at Skin Care Doctors. Our medical providers have taken special training to treat dermatological conditions and can discuss the best options to treat your birthmark.

Better skin health starts here. Schedule your appointment today.

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