Health Tip: About Birthmarks

ByABC News
March 23, 2008, 11:31 PM

Mar. 23 -- (HealthDay News) -- Birthmarks are darkened patches of skin that appear at birth or shortly after. While most birthmarks are harmless, some may be associated with serious complications.

Massachusetts General Hospital lists these common types of birthmarks, and any associated risks:

  • Cafe-au-lait spots are a light tan color. More than three of these on the body could indicate a genetic condition called neurofibromatosis, which causes skin tumors.
  • Strawberry hemangiomas are common, reddish in color and are rarely related to health problems.
  • Cavernous hemangiomas are puffy, bluish in color and occur beneath the skin. Because they can indicate vascular problems, consult your physician.
  • Macular stains are very light, pink or tan-colored birthmarks that are very common and harmless.
  • Moles are small dark brown or black spots that are very common. While these patches of pigmented skin cells rarely cause problems, they should be watched for changes in size or shape.
  • Port-wine stains are pink, red or purple colored patches of skin that are permanent. While they pose little health risk, they are often treated to minimize their appearance.