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Birthmarks are congenital skin conditions that typically appear at birth or shortly thereafter. They are benign conditions that do not harm the overall health of an individual. When they are located on the face or in other visible areas, however, they can cause some social or psychological distress.
Birthmarks come in many different forms. Typical signs of birthmarks include:
Birthmarks are caused by a variety of things depending on the type of birthmark they are. They are not caused by any actions or choices made by a mother when a child is in utero. In some cases, birthmarks such as port wine stains or strawberry hemangiomas are caused by a malformation of the blood vessels. Others, such as a nevus sebaceous, occur when a section of the skin overgrows.
Some birthmarks can disappear during childhood. Others, such as port wine stains, can get larger or more textured as the individual ages. Treatments that are often used for birthmarks include laser therapy, which can slow the growth of some birthmarks, propranolol which can prevent growth in a hemangioma, and surgery to excise the birthmark. In rare cases where a birthmark is life-threatening, interferon may be prescribed. Any birthmark should be watched for changes in color or texture.