Birthmarks are caused by an overgrowth of cells. There are two common types of birthmarks: vascular and pigmented. Vascular birthmarks are caused by an overgrowth of blood vessels and pigmented birthmarks are caused by an overgrowth of the cells that determine skin pigmentation. Birthmarks come in a variety of forms ranging from small or large, flat or raised and can be many colors including black, brown, blue, purple, red or pink.
Many birthmarks will fade over time. In these cases, observation is the best option. For birthmarks that are permanent or potentially damaging, several factors need to be weighed when determining the best treatment.
When the decision is made to treat or remove a birthmark, medications, lasers and surgical removal are options. In some cases, the decision to treat can be postponed until a child is older and can participate in the decision. In other cases, treatment is most effective during infancy.