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Not All Birthmarks Harmless, Expert Says
Date:2/9/2011

ough in preventing and shrinking hemangiomas. However, the medication needs to be closely monitored because of potential side effects, Friedlander said.

"Depending on their size," she added, "some facial birthmarks may leave behind a scar or saggy skin after they disappear. That is why it is often important for parents to consult a dermatologist as soon as their baby develops a birthmark, so it can be properly evaluated to determine if treatment is necessary."

Friedlander further noted that in certain instances a large birthmark of this kind can indicate a serious health issue known as PHACES, which is associated with a risk for heart, eye, blood vessel and/or brain abnormalities.

So-called "port-wine stains," which may slowly darken and thicken with time, are another physical and emotional concern, as they typically materialize on a child's face and do not disappear on their own. Small brown moles, which carry a slight risk for developing into melanoma, can be an additional issue, as are white birthmarks which are generally harmless (aside from potential pigmentation complications) and far less common than the red variety.

Treatment depends on the type of birthmark, Friedlander noted, and steroids, oral and topical medications, surgical excision and laser therapy are all tools that a dermatologist can utilize to address birthmarks.

More information

For more on birthmarks, visit the American Academy of Dermatology.

-- Alan Mozes

SOURCE: American Academy of Dermatology, news release, Feb. 4, 2011


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