If a birthmark develops on your newborn, experts now recommend consulting quickly with your pediatrician. While most birthmarks go away on their own, early identification and monitoring is essential, the American Academy of Pediatrics now says, to allow for timely treatment that can prevent any medical complications or permanent disfigurement.
Infantile hemangiomas — the common, bright red or bruise-like birthmarks that appear shortly after a baby is born — are typically harmless and start to go away on their own. Hemangiomas vary in size, appearance and placement, and they are universally benign (non-cancerous).
But some hemangiomas — particularly those on the face or those that are very large — need treatment early to prevent them from interfering with body functions or causing permanent scars.
Infantile hemangiomas typically appear within a month of birth and go through a period of rapid growth when a baby is 5 to 7 weeks old, followed by a more gradual fading and flattening. Roughly 4-5 percent of all infants get them, although they are more common in Caucasians, girls, twins and preterm or low-birth-weight babies, according to the AAP.
There are several types of birthmarks. Superficial hemangiomas, or “strawberry marks,” can resemble the surface of berries. They typically begin as small white, pink or red areas on the skin that quickly change into brighter red, raised lesions. Deep hemangiomas have a smooth surface and form under the skin. They may have a bluish tint and resemble bruises. Some cause the skin to look swollen. Combination hemangiomas are a mix of superficial and deep growths.
When infantile hemangiomas become noticeable by 4 weeks of age, they may look like tiny bumps or scratches. If you think your baby might have a hemangioma, contact your pediatrician right away. According to the AAP, the best “window of opportunity” to be evaluated and start treatment, if needed, is about 1 month of age.
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