Types of Birthmarks in Infants and Children

hair Birthmark

One toddler from Ridgeland, South Carolina was born with an extraordinary ‘hair birthmark’ inherited from their mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. The distinctive mark can be seen on the top of her head.

Cafe au Lait Macules

Cafe au lait macules, also known as milk-coffee colored spots, typically appear at birth or early childhood and fade by two years old, though some persist into adulthood.

Nevus Sebaceous

Nevus sebaceous birthmarks appear on both the scalp and face. They typically resemble a salmon-colored or yellow patch without hair that has well-circumscribed borders. They are usually covered by hairless patches that grow larger with time due to hormonal fluctuations or skin irritation.

A 41-year-old Caucasian male presented with a large multiplaque sebaceous nevus on his head and forehead that had been present since birth, becoming more noticeable and warty recently. After consultation, he agreed to have it surgically removed. Although rare, nevus sebaceous can develop cancerous basal cell carcinoma (BCC). BCC tumors tend to appear during puberty due to hormonal changes and are more likely than other benign hamartomas to recur. BCCs appearing within nevus sebaceous often are linked with mutations on Chromosome 9 called the PTCH gene; so this should be considered by any patient with one.

Port-Wine Stain

Port wine stains are flat pink, red, or purple marks on the skin that typically are harmless but could indicate other medical conditions. Most port-wine stains fade with time but may darken over time or bleed when scratched or injured. They are usually found more commonly among female heads than in boys.

Health care providers usually diagnose port-wine stains based on their appearance and location, in addition to checking for possible symptoms of Sturge-Weber syndrome or Klippel-Trenaunay syndrome. If required, eye tests to measure pressure in the eyes, as well as head X-rays, will likely be requested to rule out other health concerns. Pulsed dye laser treatments may be effective at eliminating port-wine stains. Treatment plans depend on the size, color, and severity of each mark.


Hemangiomas are benign (noncancerous) growths originating from blood vessels that typically appear as red spots on infants and children’s skin, and are the most prevalent noncancerous (beneign) skin growths present at birth. Hemangiomas typically increase rapidly over the first three to five months of life before gradually shrinking over time; approximately 50% may disappear by age 5, with most clearing up by age 10.

Hemangiomas can appear as bright red bumps on your child’s skin or deep below, feeling warm to touch with a bluish tint that resembles bruises. They are generally harmless, and most are diagnosed through physical examination and medical history review.

Hemangiomas that appear on the head and neck may be associated with PHACE syndrome, a collection of conditions related to heart, eyes, airway, and circulation issues. If they affect breathing and swallowing abilities for your child, while those covering genital areas could lead to bladder or bowel issues in addition to any cosmetic concerns.