The term “birthmark” encompasses a wide range of skin irregularities that are present at birth, or very shortly after. Although the marks can take many forms, they fall under two main categories: vascular malformations (hemangioma, lymphangioma and port wine stains are the most common), formed by arteries, veins and capillaries; and pigment-based nevus or hairy nevus moles, named because they grow hair.
While the vast majority are harmless, some birthmarks can indicate an underlying health issue, so it is important to have all birthmarks examined by a medical professional.
Even when benign, the appearance of some birthmarks can be disfiguring and attract unwanted attention or bullying.
The good news is that most birthmarks are treatable. Vascular birthmarks often fade as a child grows, but those that do not generally respond well to lasers. Hairy nevus, on the other hand, usually need to be removed, for aesthetic reasons and to avoid development of skin cancer. Removal of a smaller nevus may just require a stitch or two, while large nevus can often require plastic surgery or even skin grafts.
The board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeons at Shriners Hospitals for Children—Cincinnati are adept in the treatment of pediatric birthmarks of all kinds, as well as complex wound and skin conditions. An appointment can help families determine the best course of treatment for their child. As always, no physician referral is needed at Cincinnati Shriners Hospital, and care is provided regardless of a family’s ability to pay. If your child has a birthmark, contact the hospital at (855) 206-2096 or [email protected].