Birthmarks, as the name connotes, are marks that come with birth. The medical name for a birthmark is "vascular anomaly". Babies can develop birthmarks either before or soon after they are born. About one tenth of all newborn children have birthmarks.
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Birthmarks are made up of a group of blood vessels clustered together in one area of skin. The 3 most common types of birthmarks are - macular stains, hemangiomas and port wine stains. Birthmarks are all unique, they come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are usually brown, blue, pink, purple or red.
The majority of birthmarks are harmless and painless, but some cover a large area of the face, arms or body, causing extreme emotional and social problems to those that have them. The cause of birthmarks is unknown. They are neither inherited nor a result of anything happening to the mother during pregnancy.
Due to the vast array of birthmarks, some are left alone to disappear naturally - even larger ones are left alone if they're a concern to the individual who has one. However, others are self-conscious of even the tiniest birthmark and request that it be removed.
Larger birthmarks often require special treatment to discolor or remove them. Laser therapy is an increasingly popular method used to get rid of port wine stains effectively. However, doctors recommend that parents who ask to have their young child's birthmark removed leave it untreated unless it begins to interfere with the child's body functions.