A birthmark is referred to as a pigmented area of the skin that is present at birth or develops shortly after birth. In other words, it is not rare. Some fade away over time while others become more pronounced.
Regardless, there are many different types of colours for birthmarks, including tan, brown, black, white, pink, red, pale blue and even purple!
Read on to find out more!
Firstly, what are birthmarks?
So, what are birthmarks? As mentioned, birthmarks are the common types of discolouration or coloured skin spots that can appear on your skin at birth or during the first few weeks of life. As a matter of fact, they can appear anywhere on your face and body. Besides that, birthmarks also vary in colour, size, appearance and shape.
For instance, some birthmarks are purely the colouration on the surface of your skin. While others, on the other hand, they are raised above the surface of your skin or bedded underneath. Above all, these marks can be permanent, larger or completely faded away over time.
What are the causes of birthmarks?
Up till now, the formation of birthmarks is still unknown. There is a possibility that birthmarks can run in the family's genes. Thus, passed on to their children. However, some marks on your skin, e.g. common moles, can appear later in life, but they are not considered as birthmarks.
What are the types of birthmarks?
There are various types of birthmarks and some are more common than others. Hence, the two main types of birthmarks are:
These birthmarks are made up of blood vessels which are not formed correctly in the affected areas of the skin. As a matter of fact, they normally appear red in colour. The following examples of vascular birthmarks are:
- Salmon patches
- Haemangiomas a.k.a. strawberry marks
- Port-wine stains 
While pigmented birthmarks, on the other hand, are caused by a cluster of pigmented cells in one area. Normally, these skin markings are seen as brown, black or blue-grey in colour.
- Congenital nevi -- Moles that appear at birth
- Café-au-lait spots
- Mongolian spots
Are there any possible complications?
Moreover, birthmarks are often harmless and non-cancerous. Eventually, most of them will fade away. In certain cases, some birthmarks can cause future skin problems and do require treatment.
The possible complications or medical conditions for some of the birthmarks are:
- Haemangiomas – Vision, breathing or feeding problems 
- Port-wine stain – Glaucoma or Sturge-Weber 
- Mole – Skin cancer
- Café-au-lait spots – Neurofibromatosis
Above all, some of the birthmarks may be life-threatening and require rapid treatment. As such, you should see your doctor right away if you are experiencing the following:
- Open sores
- Change in colour, size or texture
- Become infected
Here are the treatment options available in Singapore!
As mentioned above, some birthmarks have underlying medical conditions which need to be treated. However, due to concerns with its' appearance, birthmarks or moles do get removed. With that said, the treatments can sometimes be painful and not always effective.
The treatments available for birthmarks removal are:
Commonly, doctors use this treatment for port-wine stains and other birthmarks which are close to the skin’s surface. Laser therapy uses an adjustable high-concentrating light beam to lighten the affected skin area.
However, laser therapy can be quite uncomfortable and may require a local anaesthetic. The possible side effects can be temporary swelling and bruising. In addition, laser therapy will usually require several treatments in order to get permanent results.
Also known as beta-blocker, propranolol is an oral medication that reduces the size and appearance of haemangiomas. In addition, it prevents further formation by shrinking the blood vessels. This allows the marks to lighten and soften in colour, which will then fade and shrink.
Another type of beta-blocker is Timolol, which can be applied topically.
This treatment has two options. Doctors can either inject corticosteroids into the birthmark or prescribe them as oral medication. This helps to shrink certain birthmarks and avoid any further growth.
If the other treatments have failed or are not effective, your doctor may recommend surgery. Surgical removal helps to treat some birthmarks and large moles.
There are several ways of doing the surgery:
- Using a small scalpel to remove – If the birthmarks are large, several appointments will be made to remove them by sections.
- Tissue expansion – Reduces the scarring left behind by the surgical removal of the birthmarks.
- Plastic surgery  – For haemangioma. To improve your skin which has been deformed or stretched and prevents further infection
Overall, when picking your treatment, it still depends on several factors such as the type, location, and severity of the birthmark.
All in all, most birthmarks are not severe, and some will fade over time. In most cases, they are simply a cause for aesthetic concerns. On the other hand, some of them can stay or worsen as you age. In the worst case, you can be at a higher risk of skin cancer.
As usual, consult your doctor beforehand on what kind of treatment is suitable for you and your birthmarks.
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Dr Ho Rui Ming currently serves as the Medical Director for M-Aesthetic Clinic, providing aesthetic services with his experiences and qualifications. Besides that, Dr Ho has a special interest in the latest thread lift procedures and acne scar treatments. He has performed aesthetic treatments including Silhouette Soft, PDOs, Korean threads, PLLA etc.
Also, read more of Dr Ho Rui Ming's QnA here.