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Birthmarks - red
Alternative namesStrawberry mark; Vascular skin changes; Angioma cavernosum; Capillary hemangioma; Hemangioma simplex
DefinitionRed birthmarks are colored, vascular (blood vessel) skin markings that develop before or shortly after birth. (See also birthmarks - pigmented .)
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
There are two main categories of birthmarks. Red birthmarks are a vascular type of birthmark. Pigmented birthmarks are areas in which the color of the birthmark is different from the color of the rest of the skin.
Signs and testsAll birthmarks should be examined by a health care provider. Diagnosis is based primarily on the appearance of the skin lesion.
A biopsy , CT scan or MRI of the area may confirm deeper birthmarks (for example, an abdominal MRI ).
TreatmentMany capillary birthmarks (strawberry hemangiomas, cavernous hemangiomas, salmon patches) are temporary and require no treatment.
The nevus flammeus type of hemangiomas may require no treatment unless they are disfiguring or psychologically distressing, or unless they develop new qualities like becoming painful or changing appearance.
Permanent lesions may be disguised with cosmetics, especially cosmetics designed to be concealing or covering (such as Covermark).
Oral or injected cortisone may be used to reduce the size of a hemangioma that is growing rapidly and obstructing vision or vital structures.
Permanent birthmarks may be treated with cryotherapy (freezing), surgical removal, or laser surgery . They are usually not treated unless they cause unwanted symptoms, or until a child is at least school age. However, port wine stains on the face should be treated at a young age with a yellow pulsed dye laser for best results and to prevent the often profound psychosocial problems caused by the port wine stain.
Expectations (prognosis)Birthmarks rarely cause problems other than cosmetic changes. Many birthmarks resolve spontaneously by the time a child is of school age, but some are permanent.
Calling your health care providerAll birthmarks should be examined by a health care provider to determine the prognosis (probable outcome), course of action, and possible complications.
PreventionThere is no known way to prevent birthmarks.
Update Date: 4/17/2003Michael Lehrer, M.D., Department of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT