Having a birthmark isn’t exactly the end of the world. Birthmarks are skin blemishes that often appear a month after the child is born. Some of them are almost invisible, while others occupy as much as half of a person’s face.
Many folk tales and myths have been passed around to explain the true origins of birthmarks. However, despite the many advances in science and technology, the cause of this skin aberration isn’t fully understood yet.
Not all birthmarks are the same. Several classifications have been made so it is easier to identify the characteristics and corresponding treatment of the skin patch. Here are some of the most common types of birthmarks.
- Pigmented Birthmarks – This type poses no health hazards and doesn’t need any treatment. This subgroup includes moles, coffee cream-colored spots and Mongolian blue spots. You have no choice but to accept these birthmarks because they will be around for the rest of your life.
- Salmon Patches – These are nothing more than a small, red blemish on the skin. Don’t panic if you see a very thin, flat patch of discoloration on your baby because macular stains usually disappear after the child’s first year.
- Vascular Abnormality – These malformations are formed from the irregular development of blood vessels. They are permanent and are already present since the child was born. They become a concern if the birthmarks are on the face because they may be associated with eye and/or brain problems.
- Hemangiomas – These lesions develop about two weeks after birth. Hemangiomas are either bright red or bluish-purple. These tumors commonly strike females and premature babies. If the hemangioma grows on internal organs like the stomach, liver or intestines, you need to consult a physician immediately.
- Port-wine Stains. Especially if located on the face or forehead, these massive reddish marks cause some of the heaviest damage on a person, emotionally, socially and even economically. Port-wine stains near the eyes could also lead to blindness if left untreated. There is a relatively high rate of people who suffer from this particular birthmark. Protect two of the most sensitive parts of your body by having a thorough eye and brain exam.
Birthmarks have no symptoms but they have common characteristics besides being an oddly-colored part of the skin. Still, birthmarks differ in appearance and characteristics from one another.
Birthmarks can be flat, raised, smooth or lumpy. They may also be brown, black, blue, red or purple. Some are permanent while others disappear after a year or two. Overall, birthmarks are generally harmless. You only need to consult a doctor if they are accompanied by blood, open sore, infection or pain.
No Big Deal
Only rarely does a birthmark interfere with a person’s normal functions. They often disappear or fade away over time. You only need medical help for a birthmark if it starts to form on your internal organs.
Treating your birthmark to make it shrink, fade or completely go away isn’t always a guaranteed success. It is a very big decision to make because you might get nothing in return despite enduring the painful process.
Most birthmarks are removed for purely aesthetic purposes. Having a medical professional treat the skin irregularity should be your last option. Try to hide it with makeup, clothing or a different hairstyle.
There is absolutely no way to prevent birthmarks from popping on your body, but they are removable. However, before you push through with your birthmark operation, consult a doctor about the risks and rewards of the procedure. Understand that not all birthmarks are treatable. Try looking at some photos of birthmarks before and after they were treated.
Among the various types of birthmarks, hemangiomas are most likely to receive treatment. Although they aren’t remotely attractive, most hemangiomas shrink on their own. The type of treatment depends on the age of the patient, as well as the characteristics of the birthmark. Below are the most widely used treatments against birthmarks.
- Direct Medication. Corticosteroids like prednisone can be taken orally or injected directly into a hemangioma to stunt its growth and make it shrink. On the flipside, corticosteroids cause weight gain, although it disappears when you stop the treatment. When treatment takes effect, the hemangioma would shrink within two to four weeks. If the treated area becomes infected, apply topical cream on it.
- Stronger Pills. In the very rare instance that the corticosteroid fails to prevent the hemangioma from growing further, your doctor might prescribe interferon alfa-12. This medication packs a stronger punch but has serious side effects. The birthmark will recede after three to six months of therapy, but you may suffer fever, irritability and liver problems.
- Laser Therapy. If you want fast results, go high-tech with laser procedure. This method is used on birthmarks that are near the surface of the skin like port-wine stains. Laser therapy is great against shallow birthmarks, but may not work on a deeper hemangioma.
- Surgical Procedure. If all other techniques have failed you so far, going under the knife might be your best and only remaining option. Surgery is a practical solution if the birthmark is located on an internal organ and hindering your ability to function daily. Although the operation would leave a scar, it should be a big improvement over your previous skin blemish.
- Alternative Methods. Cryosurgery and electrodesiccation are two of the latest technologies in skin treatment. With cryotherapy, vascular marks are frozen by spraying a freezing agent onto the skin. When the wounds heal, the skin problem gradually disappears. On the other hand, electrodesiccation uses an electric needle to treat the affected area.
Everybody has a birthmark or two. They are your body’s natural tattoos. Although it isn’t the loveliest thing on your body, a birthmark is part of who you are and there is nothing to be ashamed about it.
If Richard Gere, Tina Turner, Elvis Presley and Mikhail Gorbachev managed to deal with their birthmarks the natural way, you can too. The good news is that a birthmark is like an appendix – it doesn’t have much use so you can still live a normal life without it. If you enjoy reading this article, you’ll surely enjoy reading how to get rid of blemishes.