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Vascular birthmarks are areas of discolored and/or raised skin that are apparent at birth or within a few weeks of birth. They may be made up of different cell types such as malformed pigment cells or blood vessels. Here at the Canadian Dermatology Centre, we take great care in treating vascular birthmarks in Toronto.

Vascular birthmark diagnosis

It is still unclear as to exactly what causes most birthmarks. Most of them are non-cancerous (benign) and don't require any treatment. Despite this, babies with birthmarks should still be examined and diagnosed by a board-certified dermatologist to rule out any other conditions.

Some birthmarks fade with age, while others are permanent. Some parents opt to have their child's birthmarks treated for cosmetic or medical reasons. First step is to have the birthmarks assessed by a dermatologist to determine that they are benign.

Once this is confirmed, the dermatologist can present you with the treatment options and the expected results to see if pursuing treatment for cosmetic reasons is worth it.

Three major types of vascular birthmarks

Salmon patch

Salmon patch (nevus simplex) is a flat patch of pink or red skin, often small, usually with poorly defined borders. Salmon patches may be seen in as many as 1 out of every 3 newborns. They typically are found at the nape of the neck ("stork bite"), on the forehead between the eyebrows ("angel's kiss") or on the eyelids. Often, they are more noticeable during crying or changes in temperature.

Strawberry hemangioma

Strawberry hemangioma is a raised bright red spot, often small, usually soft and compressible, with well-defined borders. It occurs most commonly on the face, scalp, chest or back. It may be present at birth but more often appears during the first one or two months of life. Strawberry hemangiomas occur in 1% to 3% of infants. In rare cases, they interfere with vital organs or are associated with life-threatening complications.

Port-wine stain (nevus flammeus)

This type is a flat patch of purple or dark red skin, often large, usually with well-defined borders. It usually is on one side of the face or neck and is present at birth. (Mikhail Gorbachev, former president of the Soviet Union, has a port-wine stain on his forehead.) Port-wine stains affect less than 1% of infants. In rare cases, they are associated with other abnormalities.

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Board-certified Dermatologists

Every skin is different, and the combination of each skin type and particular skin condition presents a unique set of characteristics. Contact our clinic today to schedule a consultation with one of our leading board-certified dermatologist and see what treatment options are available to you.

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