A birthmark is a benign irregularity on the skin which is present at birth or appears shortly after birth. Most birthmarks usually fade, shrink or even disappear on their own. But sometimes birthmarks are associated with other health problems and need to be treated or removed because of their location. Also, some people want to remove them especially when birthmarks are highly visible. They can cause emotional and social problems. Fortunately there are several ways to get rid of birthmarks. But some treatments can be dangerous, painful and they don't always work. Learn about the different options to remove a birthmark using medication, laser therapy, surgery, skin lighteners or natural remedies.
What are the main removal procedures for birthmarks?
Medication to remove a birthmark
Large hemangiomas are often treated with medication, such as corticosteroids. 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, such as lowered blood pressure or adrenal gland insufficiency. Steroids also are linked to mood disorders and insomnia.
How to get rid of birthmarks 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. In infancy, 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. However there are some risks involved. Infection, scarring or skin discoloration may happen after a birthmark removal. The risks of scarring increase with every treatment.
Cryosurgery and electrodesiccation to get rid of birthmarks
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.
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.
Are skin lighteners effective and safe to get rid of birthmarks?
Skin lighteners contain an active ingredient or a combination of ingredients that reduces the amount of melanin in the skin where it is applied. The most widely used ingredient in skin lighteners sold in the U.S. is hydroquinone. The FDA regulates the use of hydroquinone in the U.S. However, studies have shown that hydroquinone has some carcinogenic effects when applied to skin. It's considered cytotoxic (toxic to cells) and mutagenic. Studies have also shown that long term hydroquinone use can cause exogenous ochronosis, which is when your skin turns a bluish and black color. Hydroquinone not only inhibits melanin production to help lighten skin, but long term use can actually damage your pigment cells.
Some skin lighteners use natural compounds instead of hydroquinone. Skin lighteners using kojic acic are quite common. In studies, kojic acid has demonstrated efficacy similar to hydroquinone as a skin lightener in cases involving hyperpigmentation, freckles and age spots. It inhibits the action of tyrosinase, an enzyme that plays an important role in the production of melanin. The main side effect observed with kojic acid is skin irritation. When excessive amounts are used on the skin, it can lead to a condition known as contact dermatitis. For this reason, kojic acid is typically used in concentrations between 1-4%.
There other natural skin lightening compounds, such as Sophora Flavescens. Recent Study has found that sophora flavescens has strong abilities in correcting skin pigmentation issues. This plant has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. One of the most popular products containing sophora flavescens to fade birthmarks is Carapex Dark Spot Corrector.
Skin lightening products do come with some risks. Topical creams may worsen the situation by irritating the mark. Always talk to your doctor before using a skin lightener and ask for specific instructions for the product. Also, make sure there is no mercury in the product.
How to get rid of birthmarks using natural remedies?
Even if using natural products requires a little patience, the good thing about it is that it can help moles or birthmarks to clear up without any pain or scars. But it works depending on the size, the location and the type of birthmarks.
Lemon and olive oil
Some people have tried various natural remedies to fade birthmarks. Lemon juice is one of the most popular remedy for birthmarks. Lemon juice is a bleaching agent that helps lighten the darker areas on the skin. Here is how lemon juice can be used to get rid of birthmarks:
- Dab a few drops of lemon juice on the birthmark.
- Leave it for at least 20 minutes.
- Wash it off with warm water.
- Dry your skin off with a clean towel.
This process can be repeated at least three times a day until the birthmark has faded. You could combine this with a regular massage with olive oil. Olive oil is considered to be a natural moisturizer. It may rehydrate damaged skin cells, which in turn can help to lighten a birthmark.
The bleaching effect of lemon juice becomes stronger in the sun, though it is advisable to stay out of the sun while the lemon juice is on your skin. A birthmark should always be checked by a doctor before using beaching agents to get rid of it.
Freckle lightening mask with lemon juice (skincare recipe shared by Optiderma.com)
What else can help?
Look after your birthmark carefully
Birthmarks should never be tampered with or irritated unnecessary. If your birthmark is itching, bleeding, develops irregular edges, or if it's changing color, shape, size, consult your doctor as soon as possible.
Also, the sun can make haemangiomas temporarily swollen, so use a high factor sun cream, a hat to protect your face and/or an umbrella to protect your skin from the sun.
Make-up to cover birthmarks
Camouflage make-up can be used to conceal many birthmarks, whether on a daily basis or for that special occasion. There are a variety of products available, such as Derma Blend body makeup. Finding the best product for you and the right shade for your skin is important, with professional help available to make sure you get it right!
What causes strawberry birthmarks in infants? (article on Optiderma.com)