A birthmark is a benign irregularity on the skin which is present at birth or appears shortly after birth. Most birthmarks are not inherited. A birthmark comes from an overproduction of coloring of the melanocytes, which are the cells responsible for skin pigmentation. There are several ways to get rid of a birthmark. Learn about the ways to remove, fade or shrink a birthmark, and the risks involved in birthmark removal procedures.
What are the different types of birthmarks?
There are two main categories of birthmarks: red birthmarks and pigmented birthmarks.
Red birthmarks are colored, blood vessel (vascular) skin markings that develop before or shortly after birth. The most common types of red birthmarks are:
- Strawberry birthmark (has a raised red surface)
- Portwine birthmark (lies flat against the skin)
- Hemangiomas (have a reddish color are are usually present at birth or within a few months later)
- Salmon patches or stork bites (pink and flat) - extremely common, appearing on 30-50% of newborns.
Pigmented birthmarks are:
- Mongolian spots (usually bluish and appear as bruises)
- Moles (growths on the skin that usually are flesh-colored, brown or black)
- Congenital nevi (a brown to brownish black mark that is present at birth)
- Cafe-au-Lait Spots (light tan or light brown spots that are usually oval in shape)
Do birthmarks need to be treated?
Most birthmarks usually fade, shrink or even disappear on their own. Only rarely does a birthmark needs treatment. But Sometimes birthmarks are associated with other health problems and need to be treated, so talk to your doctor about whether this might be the case. For example, large hemangiomas are often treated with medication.
How to get rid of birthmarks? Can birthmarks be removed?
In some cases, birthmarks can become a health risk and need to be
removed because of their location. Also, a birthmark can be disfiguring and embarrassing. If the port-wine stain is highly visible, its presence can also cause emotional and social problems for the affected person. This is why lot's of people are looking for ways to remove their birthmark.
There are several ways to fade, shrink, or remove some types of birthmarks. But some treatments can be dangerous, painful and they don't always work.
Medication to remove a birthmark
Corticosteroids are often used to get rid of a birthmark. They can be injected directly into the birthmark or taken orally. The medication usually slows down the growth of birthmarks and can make them shrink within a few weeks. However, corticosteroids have side effects and can lead to other health problems.
Getting rid of a birthmark with laser therapy
Laser therapy is a popular procedure for the removal of birthmarks, especially for port-wine birthmarks. Although complete disappearance is rare, most lighten after a few treatments. Some stains may return and need re-treatment.
It is often recommended to start laser treatment in infancy for best results because the stain and the blood vessels are usually smaller. Older stain may be more difficult to get rid of. It is said that a lighter shade stain often requires about 4 laser treatments, whereas the darker stains require 7 or more. A yellow light laser, called flashlamp pumped dye laser, is commonly used and has been the most successful at removing stains in infants and young children.
Can birthmarks be surgically removed?
Yes, they can. Moles, particularly large ones, often are
surgically removed, though larger ones may be more difficult to remove.
Birthmark removal: other alternatives
There are other alternatives to remove birthmarks, known as cryosurgery and electrodesiccation. Cryosurgery is the application of extreme cold to the affected area. Electrodesiccation is the destruction of tissue by dehydration, done by means of a high-frequency electric current. These techniques appear to be effective for the removal of birthmarks.
Important: Always consult a practitioner if you want to get rid of a birthmark. Make sure to use an experienced doctor or cosmetic surgeon for any kind of birthmark removal.
What are the risks involved in birthmark removal procedures?
Infection and scarring may happen after a birthmark removal. Any time there is an open wound, there is a chance of infection. Improper healing of the wound and infection can lead to inflammation and scarring. The risks of scarring increase with every treatment. Also, skin discoloration can occur following a surgery.
In the encyclopedia of Natural Healing, Siegfried Gursche says that after a surgical birthmark removal, some people have noticed glandular swellings and other abnormalities all over the body, which were found to be malignant metastases.
Regarding long term treatments using medication such as corticosteroids, there are a few side effects to consider, such as lowered blood pressure or adrenal gland insufficiency. Steroids also are linked to mood disorders and insomnia.
Any natural remedies to help fade a birthmark?
Some people have tried various natural remedies to fade a birthmark, but it works depending on the size, the location and the type of birthmarks.
- A mix of vitamin E and orange oil can be rubbed over birthmarks
- Icepack can help with blood circulation and tighten skin pores
- Lemon juice or a regular massage with olive oil is said to lighten birthmarks
Does a birthmark change during pregnancy?
The hormonal shift does seem to have a darkening effect on birthmarks.
Skin pigmentation can appear during pregnancy due to hormonal imbalances. The only thing that can be done is supplementing the diet with a good multivitamin containing vitamin A, B, C, D and E. High copper levels in the body can also cause pigmentation.
Birthmarks: other advice
- Birthmarks should never be tampered with or irritated unnecessary because it could trigger trigger a melanoma. If your birthmark is itching, bleeding, or develop irregular edges, it might be a sign of a melanoma and should be removed as quickly as possible. Consult your doctor if your birthmark change color, size, shape.
- Use a good quality sunscreen with a high SPF when outdoors in order to prevent complications.
- Make-up: Special brands designed to cover birthmarks are sold. Special opaque makeup can help camouflage a stain.
Sources for this article on birthmarks include:
Have you found a way to fade or remove your birthmark? Do not hesitate to leave a comment below to help people who want to get rid of a birthmark too.