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Babies are often born with temporary blotches or pimples that soon disappear. Sometimes, these marks appear on their skin shortly after birth. These range from disfiguring to hardly noticeable. But, however they may be, they can be upsetting. Birthmarks can be raised or flat; have different color shades; and have regular or irregular margins. There are the vascular birthmarks which result when blood vessels are not formed correctly; and the pigmented birthmarks which result when cells overgrow to create coloration in skin.

Birthmarks are usually harmless. But it is good to check a birthmark with a doctor to decide if it needs treatment. These are not caused due to something done or not done during pregnancy. They are not stains of some food that the mother ate, either. The exact causative agent of birthmarks is still unknown.

If birthmarks are obvious, people may stare or ask questions about it. Even when they are young, children watch their parents’ response to such situations. This helps them cope with others’ reactions. So, be prepared with simple answers that let your children know that these are acceptable parts of their lives. It can as simple as “It’s only a birthmark.”

Birthmarks are fairly common in children. Appearing in a variety of shapes, sizes, colours, and textures, they are present either on the skin or under the skin. Some children are born with it while others get it in the first one or two years of their lives. If your child has a birthmark, there is no need to panic as birthmarks are found in more than 10 per cent children. More often than not, birthmarks are pretty innocuous and may disappear or fade with the passage of time. However, under certain extreme conditions birthmarks may be a pointer to a serious underlying medical condition and may require urgent medical attention.

What causes birthmarks?

Till now there is no scientific explanation for the reason they are formed. It is not pregnancy related as they do not owe their existence to something done or not done during pregnancy. In fact, cause of most birthmarks is unknown. Some birthmarks are inherited but not all. Birthmarks are also not the result of skin trauma during pregnancy.

Types of birthmarks

There are basically two types of birthmarks: Vascular (blood vessel) birthmarks and Pigmented birthmarks Vascular birthmarks are formed owing to faulty formation of blood vessels. Common types of vascular birthmarks include Hemangiomas, Macular stains, Port-wine stains, etc. Common types of Pigmented birthmarks are café-au-lait spots, Mongolian spots, and moles.

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