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Birthmarks: Tips for managing

3 tips for anxious parents

Seeing a birthmark on your newborn’s skin can be worrisome. Here’s what dermatologists recommend if your child has a birthmark:

  1. See a dermatologist for a birthmark exam. Most birthmarks are harmless, but having a dermatologist examine it as soon as you notice it is important.

    A dermatologist can tell you what type of birthmark your child has and whether you need to do anything about it.

  2. Understand that most birthmarks are harmless. Most birthmarks pose no risk to the child, so it’s safe to leave them alone.

    If you’re worried that the birthmark’s size or location could have a psychological effect on your child later in life, tell your child’s dermatologist about your concern.

    Dermatologists can often tell you if the birthmark is permanent or will fade with time. Your child’s dermatologist can also tell you about the risks and benefits of treatment. Sometimes, it’s best to wait and watch.

    Other times, early treatment produces the best results. When a child has a port-wine stain—a birthmark that begins as a flat mark that can be red, pink, or purple—early treatment is often recommended.

    A port-wine stain will not go away. Treating it early before it darkens and thickens tends to produce the best results.

    Baby with strawberry hemangioma

    A dermatologist can tell you what type of birthmark your child has and whether it could cause a problem.

    Baby with strawberry hemangioma birthmark

  3. Watch for changes. It’s normal for a birthmark to grow as your child grows. Some will grow quickly and then fade without causing a problem.

    When a birthmark grows quickly, it may cause problems. If your child seems to be in pain or the birthmark breaks open, it’s time to call your child’s dermatologist. This birthmark may need wound care.

    If your child’s birthmark is a mole, it’s natural for the mole to grow with the child. Should you see other changes to the mole, such as rapid growth, more than one color or a jagged border, it’s time to call a dermatologist.

By having a dermatologist examine your child’s birthmark when you first notice it, you’ll know what to expect. You’ll also have an expert to call if the birthmark starts to cause a problem.

If you need a dermatologist, you can find one at, Find a dermatologist.

Related AAD resources

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American Academy of Dermatology. “Red, white and brown: Defining characteristics of common birthmarks will determine type and timing of treatment.” News release issued Feb 4, 2011.