August 11, 2021

What are Vascular Birthmarks?

A vascular birthmark is a darkening of the skin caused by abnormal blood vessel formation. They emerge shortly after birth or are present at birth. Vascular birthmarks are divided into three categories:

Salmon patch (nevus simplex) is a flat, pink or red area of skin that is generally tiny and has poorly defined borders. As many as one out of every three infants may have salmon spots. They are most commonly found at the nape of the neck ("stork bite"), between the brows on the forehead ("angel's kiss"), or on the eyelids. They are often more visible when crying or when the weather changes.

Hemangioma is a raised bright red patch with well-defined edges that is generally small, soft, and compressible. It most often affects the face, scalp, chest, and back. It may be present before birth, although it is more common in the first month. While many hemangiomas may go away with time, some may develop extremely quickly. The quickly developing hemangioma might occasionally interfere with organ function.

Port-wine stain (nevus flammeus)
A flat area of purple or dark red skin, generally broad and with well-defined boundaries, is called a port-wine stain (nevus flammeus). It is generally present at birth on one side of the face or neck. Only around 1% of babies are affected with port-wine stains. They are occasionally linked to other abnormalities.


Vascular birthmarks are painless and typically have no symptoms other than darkening of the skin.

If a hemangioma interferes with a vital organ, it might produce additional symptoms. A lesion on the neck, for example, may push down on the trachea and make breathing difficult, while a hemangioma near the eye or on the ear could impair vision or cause hearing loss.

A port-wine stain is occasionally linked with other problems. Some children with a stain around their eyelids, for example, have Sturge-Weber syndrome, which is linked to glaucoma, seizures, and other issues.


These birthmarks may be diagnosed by a doctor just by looking at them. The doctor may order additional imaging studies such as computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) if hemangiomas or port-wine stains are found in an area that could affect organs beneath or near them (MRI).

Expected Timeframe

Within the first year of life, salmon spots generally disappear. Hemangiomas can grow in size for 6 to 12 months, sometimes rapidly. The hemangioma then stops growing and ultimately diminishes and vanishes. By the time a kid reaches the age of nine, the majority of hemangiomas have vanished. A little amount of additional loose skin may remain in the area where the hemangioma was removed. Stains from port-wine generally increase in proportion to the body and last until maturity. They may darken, thicken, and form little lumps.


Vascular birthmarks are impossible to avoid.


Salmon patches do not require treatment because they fade away within the first year of life. The best cosmetic results for most hemangiomas are obtained when the birthmarks are allowed to fade naturally without treatment. An infant with a hemangioma, on the other hand, should be closely monitored to ensure that it does not grow in size.

Propranolol can be used to treat enlarging hemangiomas. Those who do not respond to propranolol or who pose a risk due to interference with a vital organ are treated with oral or injected corticosteroids, laser treatment, or surgical removal. Cosmetic creams that are opaque can be used to cover port-wine stains. Laser therapy can also be used to get rid of them.

You should speak with a dermatologist or plastic surgeon who specializes in the treatment of vascular birthmarks about your treatment options.

When Should You See a Professional?

A doctor should examine birthmarks as soon as they appear and at regular intervals after that, especially to monitor the growth of hemangiomas.


Salmon patches fade away without causing any problems. The majority of hemangiomas fade away without causing any problems, though some people may experience minor skin changes. Most port-wine stains can be removed with laser therapy with little scarring or discolouration. The prognosis varies for hemangiomas involving vital organs and port-wine stains associated with other abnormalities. Seek early evaluation and treatment from an experienced doctor for the best results.

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