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Articles in skin conditions and diseases: Acne Actinic keratosis Albinism Basal cell nevus syndrome Bathing trunk nevus Birthmarks Cherry angioma Seborrheic keratosis Cutaneous skin tags Dermatitis Ehlers-Danlos syndrome Erythrasma Hives Ingrown toenails Keloid Keratosis pilaris Klippel-Trenaunay syndrome Leprosy Livedo reticularis Moles Mongolian blue spots Psoriasis Polymorphic light eruption Port wine stain Pyogenic granuloma Rosacea Scabies Scleroderma Sebaceous cysts Shingles Skin lesions Skin lesion of histoplasmosis Skin lesion of coccidioidomycosis Skin tags Smallpox Spider angioma Spider veins Superficial thrombophlebitis Tinea versicolor Urticaria pigmentosa Varicose veins Vitiligo Wegener's granulomatosis Xanthelasma and xanthoma

Are birthmarks serious?

Most birthmarks are harmless. However, it's wise to have your doctor check moles, especially large ones known as giant pigmented naevi, which are more likely than small moles to become cancerous over time. Your doctor will also want to keep a check on potentially problematic marks, such as port-wine stains which are near the eye, large haemangiomas on an arm,

leg or near the eye, or large groups of brown marks. Any birthmarks (other than Mongolian spots) which are located on the lower spine may also need special attention.

Some birthmarks may need treatment because of their location. Obvious birthmarks, especially those on the face and neck can make people unhappy with their appearance, especially if they have experienced teasing and staring. This can affect their confidence and self esteem. For example, a raised birthmark near a child's eye may interfere with his or her ability to see. In rare cases, birthmarks are associated with other conditions, such as growths on the liver, lungs, stomach, or intestines.

Port-wine stains on the face or neck, even small ones, may bother a child tremendously and may even be psychologically damaging. In that case, specialised make-up can be used to disguise the area. Cavernous haemangioma can become dangerous as they go deeper and can cause complications. For example, if one's near an airway, it could cause breathing difficulties.

More information on birthmarks

What are birthmarks? - Birthmarks are colored skin spots that either are present at birth or develop shortly after birth. Birthmarks include vascular birthmarks, and pigmented birthmarks.
What causes birthmarks? - The cause of most birthmarks is unknown. Most birthmarks are not inherited. Most vascular birthmarks are not due to difficulties or problems that happen to the mother during pregnancy.
Are birthmarks serious? - Most birthmarks are harmless. Some birthmarks may need treatment because of their location. In rare cases, birthmarks are associated with other conditions.
Birthmark treatments - Many birthmarks require no treatment. Treatment for hemangiomas varies depending on the type, size, rate of growth, and location. 
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All information is intended for reference only. Please consult your physician for accurate medical advices and treatment. Copyright 2005,, all rights reserved. Last update: July 18, 2005