Birthmarks are a common condition, of which there are different types. Despite their name, they aren’t always present at birth and can sometimes appear during the days following delivery. They vary in size and colour with some fading away, while others remain permanently.

There are two types of birthmark, vascular and pigmented. Vascular birthmarks are often red, purple or pink. They are caused when blood vessels don’t develop properly and include salmon patches and port-wine stains.  Pigmented birthmarks occur when pigment cells (known as melanin) cluster together and include café au lait spots and Mongolian blue spots. 


    Moles (congenital nevus)
    These raised brown spots are extremely common and range in colour from pink to light brown or black. They can appear anywhere on the body and tend to be round in shape. It’s important to keep an eye on any changes to the size or shape of moles, as larger congenital nevi have a greater risk of developing skin cancer.


    Salmon patches
    Sometimes referred to as angel kisses or stork bites, salmon patches are caused by small blood vessels clustering under the skin. Typically red or pink in colour, they tend to occur between the eyes, on the eyelids or the back of the neck. They are one of the most common types of birthmark, affecting around two out of five babies.

  • Café au lait spots
    Café au lait spots are a type of birthmark characterized by flat patches on the skin. They are light brown in color but can darken with sun exposure. These marks are distinct because they often have irregular edges and vary in color. The size of café au lait spots can also vary. Spots can be as small as a half centimeter. The spots are usually present at birth but may develop later in life. Café au lait spots are harmless and normal, with some people having anywhere from one to three spots. But sometimes, these spots can indicate an underlying genetic problem.

  • Haemangiomas
    Pink, blue or bright red in colour, haemangiomas are often found on the extremities, head or neck. They are sometimes referred to as strawberry marks due to their resemblance to the surface of a strawberry. About one in ten babies have a haemangioma and tend to be more common in girls, premature babies, low birth weight babies and multiple births, such as twins. Most haemangiomas don’t need treatment and disappear by the age of seven. Occasionally, thread veins may remain on the skin’s surface or the affected area of skin might appear lighter in colour than the rest of the skin. 

  • Mongolian blue spots
    Mongolian blue spots, also known as slate gray nevi, are a type of pigmented birthmark. They’re formally called congenital dermal melanocytosis. These marks are flat and blue-gray. They typically appear on the buttocks or lower back, but may also be found on the arms or legs. They’re generally present at birth or develop soon after. These birthmarks are noncancerous and present no health danger. However, your child’s pediatrician should examine the marks to confirm the diagnosis. There’s no recommended treatment for Mongolian blue spots. They usually fade before adolescence.

  • Port-wine stains
    Port-wine stains are red, purple or dark marks that usually appear on the face and neck. They are present from birth and are caused when small blood vessels don’t form properly near the surface of the skin. They vary in size and shape and can occur anywhere on the body but are often found on the face and neck. Port-wine stains don’t fade over time and as a child grows their port-wine stain grows in proportion with them.



Most birthmarks don’t require treatment, however some do.  The NHS can provide treatment if a birthmark is affecting someone’s health, however if you’d like a birthmark removed for cosmetic reasons this will have to be privately.    



Lisa Butler was born with a port-wine stain on her face. Now in her late thirties, she has learnt to come to terms with her condition. In her blog for the British Skin Foundation, she writes about her changing attitude to her skin, and how “confidence for me means not feeling like I need to apply makeup every time I leave the house”. Instead, she has become selective about when she chooses to cover up, explaining that, “I do still wear makeup for going to work or going out for the evening, but if I’m going to the supermarket or on the school run, I’m happy to go out without any makeup on.”

Professional dancer Cassandra Naud (pictured), was also born with a noticeable birthmark. Located underneath her eye, she explained to People.com that she has found her birthmark is an advantage when she goes for auditions. She’s keen to highlight that, “Something like this, like a birthmark, it’s not negative. You have to see the positive, let go, and know that it’s okay.”

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