Birthmarks: strawberry stain, port wine stain, birthmark

Birthmarks are colored spots on the skin that are already present when a child is born or appear shortly after birth. Birthmarks can be divided into two groups based on color: red skin changes (such as strawberry stain, port-wine stain) and brown skin changes (such as moles). What do the stains look like and how are the stains treated?

Article content

  • Birthmarks
  • Stork bite
  • Hemangioma or strawberry spot
  • Port wine stains
  • Mongolian spots
  • Congenital moles
  • Birthmarks treatment


Many babies have colored spots on their skin. These spots are also called birthmarks: they are already present at birth or appear shortly afterwards. Most birthmarks are not dangerous. Birthmarks are usually divided into two groups: red and brown changes of the skin.

Red changes of the skin

Vessel changes and benign blood vessel tumors (developed just under the skin by small blood vessels): stork bites, strawberry stains, port wine stains.

Brown changes of the skin

These are pigmented spots, the increase in pigment cells produces a dark color. This group includes the Mongolian spots and birthmarks.

Stork bite

You see stork bites in almost fifty percent of newborns. A stork bite looks like a flat spot with a light pink color, usually near the eyebrows or neck. If the spot is between the eyebrows, it is often no longer visible after a year and a half.

Hemangioma or strawberry spot

Hemangioma, also known as strawberry spot, occurs in approximately ten percent of children under one year of age. The cause is unknown. The spot is usually located on the head, neck or arms. At or just after birth it is a small, flat, red spot. In the first year, the strawberry spot quickly becomes larger and thicker, but in subsequent years the spot decreases in size. In half of the cases, the skin at the site is as good as normal after five years, and in seventy percent of the cases after seven years. Usually some residual abnormalities are still visible, for example some capillaries.

Port wine stains

Port-wine stains occur in approximately one in three thousand babies and are a proliferation of superficial blood vessels. The spots have a purple-red color and the shape is irregular. They usually do not disappear. A port-wine stain can be very difficult, especially on the face. Very occasionally, a port-wine stain on the face is associated with abnormal blood vessels in the brain that can lead to epilepsy.

Mongolian spots

These are pigment spots with a blue-brown color, irregular in shape. You regularly see them in young children of Asian descent (this is where the name comes from: the spot is said to be characteristic of the Mongolian race). The spots are often on the back and buttocks. The spots also occur in other babies with pigmented skin. Mongolian spots are also sometimes mistaken for bruises. In most cases, the spots disappear on their own. When a child is seven, you often hardly see them anymore, they usually disappear when a child is ten. Very occasionally the stain does not disappear.

Congenital moles

These brown spots are also called congenital nevi. A child may have them at birth, but they can also appear within a few weeks after delivery. The cause is not known, but heredity may play a role. A birthmark is a spot that remains, sometimes raised and sometimes not. Birthmarks can become malignant later in life, but this rarely happens.

Birthmarks treatment

  • Most birthmarks disappear as the child gets older. If there is a hemangioma that is rapidly increasing in size on the eyelid, treatment often follows within a few weeks. Otherwise the child’s field of vision may be hampered.
  • Sometimes corticosteroids are given to reduce the size of a hemangioma. Laser can also be used.
  • Port-wine stains can also be treated with laser. They can become somewhat uneven during puberty and therefore treatment is usually not waited until after this stage of life.
  • With pigmented moles, you should be alert to changes in color, size and shape. Ask your doctor for advice if changes occur or if you are unsure. If necessary, the moles can be removed through surgery. Birthmarks that do not disappear may need to be surgically removed. This depends on the size and location of the stain.