SkinCare in Wellesley, MA

Birthmarks are exceptionally common, and rarely pose a medical concern. However, many people wish to have birthmarks reduced or removed for cosmetic reasons. In addition, whether or not you are self-conscious about a birthmark, it’s important to have it examined by a qualified dermatologist to screen for any potential health risks. Dr. Rashel Goodkin is a Harvard-trained dermatologist who can address any cosmetic or health concerns regarding birthmarks.

What are Birthmarks?

Birthmarks are pigmented or raised areas on the skin that are present from birth. For the most part, birthmarks are harmless and not painful. There are several different types of birthmarks that fall into two basic categories: vascular or pigmented.

Types of Birthmarks

Some common types of birthmarks include:

  • Salmon patches (also known as storm bites or macular stains), which are thin, flat areas that are pink or red, commonly found on the neck, eyelids, upper lip, or brow
  • Moles (or nevi)
  • Café-au-lait spots, which are smooth and tan or brown
  • Mongolian spots, which are smooth and blue or gray
  • Port-wine stains, which are pink or red at birth and darken to red or purple over time
  • Hemangiomas, which are raised or bumpy and may be pink, red, purple, or blue

What Causes Birthmarks?

Some birthmarks, such as hemangiomas, port-wine stains, or salmon patches, are caused by blood vessels that do not develop correctly, and may be close to the skin’s surface or clustered together in a way that is visible. This does not generally result in complications.

Other birthmarks are the result of melanocytes, or pigmented skin cells, which are clustered closely together. Such birthmarks include café-au-lait spots and other types of moles. Some of these brown birthmarks may be precancerous and may need to be evaluated by a dermatologist.

Should I See a Dermatologist About a Birthmark?

The majority of birthmarks do not cause any health concerns and do not require treatment, unless you feel self-conscious about the appearance of a noticeable birthmark. However, it’s important to see an educated and experienced dermatologist such as Dr. Goodkin to check for any signs of complication. This is especially true if the birthmark bleeds, itches, is painful, or shows signs of infection.

Treatment for Birthmarks

Birthmarks can generally be diagnosed through a simple visual exam. In young children or infants, a birthmark may be a symptom of another medical issue. Dr. Goodkin can often recognize these issues by reviewing your child’s medical history and may recommend further treatment.

Certain types of birthmarks, including port-wine stains, can be treated using laser therapy treatments.

Medications, such as propranolol or timolol, may also be recommended for hemangiomas. These medications can be administered topically and prevent the hemangioma from growing. To shrink a hemangioma and prevent it from growing, propranolol can be used orally.

As needed, a simple surgery may be required to remove the birthmark. This is generally only recommended for birthmarks that pose health concerns. For example, a mole that is precancerous should be removed surgically.

Schedule an Appointment

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Goodkin, please call 781.227.7977. You can also request an appointment online through this form.