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    Birthmarks - red

    Strawberry mark; Vascular skin changes; Angioma cavernosum; Capillary hemangioma; Hemangioma simplex

    Red birthmarks are skin markings created by colored, blood vesselsclose to the surface of the skin. They develop before or shortly after birth.


    There are two main categories of birthmarks.

    • Red birthmarks are made up of blood vessels close to the skin surface. These are called vascular birthmarks.
    • Pigmented birthmarks are areas in which the color of the birthmark is different from the color of the rest of the skin.

    Hemangiomas are a common vascular birthmark. Their cause is unknown. The color results from the development of blood vessels at the site.

    Strawberry hemangiomas (strawberry mark, nevus vascularis, capillary hemangioma, hemangioma simplex) may develop several weeks after birth.

    Cavernous hemangiomas (angioma cavernosum, cavernoma) are similar to strawberry hemangiomas but they are deeper.

    Salmon patches (stork bites) are extremely common. They appear on 30-50% of newborns.

    A port-wine stain is a flat hemangioma made ofexplanded blood capillaries (tiny blood vessels). Port wine stains on the face may be associated with Sturge-Weber syndrome.


    The main symptoms include:

    • Marks on the skin that look like blood vessels
    • Skin rash or lesion that is red

    The different types of birthmark have their own appearance and typical location:

    • Cavernous hemangiomas may appear as a red-blue spongy mass of tissue filled with blood.
    • Port-wine stains are most often located on the face. The size varies from very small to over half of the body surface.
    • Salmon patches are small, pink, flat spots. They are small blood vessels (capillaries) that are visible through the skin. They are most common on the forehead, eyelids, upper lip, between the eyebrows, and on the back of the neck. Salmon patches may be more noticeable when the infant cries or during temperature changes.
    • Strawberry hemangiomas may appear anywhere on the body. They are most common on the neck and face. These areas consist of small blood vessels very close together.

    Exams and Tests

    A health care provider should examine all birthmarks. Diagnosis is based on how the birthmark looks.

    Tests to confirm deeper birthmarks include:

    • Biopsy
    • CT scan
    • MRI of the area


    Many strawberry hemangiomas, cavernous hemangiomas, and salmon patches are temporary and do not need treatment.

    The nevus flammeus type of hemangiomas may not need treatment unless it:

    • Affects your appearance
    • Causes emotional distress
    • Is painful
    • Has changesin size, shape, or color

    Most permanent birthmarks are not treated before a child reaches school age or the birthmark is causing symptoms. Port wine stains on the face are an exception. They should be treated at a young age to prevent emotional and social problems. A yellow pulsed-dye laser can be used.

    Concealing cosmetics (such as Covermark) may hide permanent birthmarks.

    Oral or injected cortisone may reduce the size of a hemangioma that is growing quickly and affectingvision or vital organs.

    Other treatments for red birthmarks include:

    • Beta-blocker medicines such as propranolol
    • Freezing (cryotherapy)
    • Laser surgery
    • Surgical removal

    Outlook (Prognosis)

    Birthmarks rarely cause problems, other than changes in appearance. Many birthmarks go away on their own by the time a child is of school age, but some are permanent.

    Strawberry hemangiomas usually grow quickly, stay the same size, and then go away. Moststrawberry hemangiomas go away by the time the child is 9 years old. However, there may be some slight change in coloror puckering of the skin where the birthmarks was.

    Some cavernous hemangiomas go away on their own, usually as a child approaches school age.

    Port wine stains are often permanent.

    Salmon patches often fade as the infant grows. Patches on the back of the neck may not fade. Theyusually are not visible as hair grows.

    Possible Complications

    • Emotional distress because of appearance
    • Discomfort or bleeding from vascular birthmarks (occasional)
    • Scarring or complications after surgical removal

    When to Contact a Medical Professional

    Have your health care provider look at all birthmarks.


    There is no known way to prevent birthmarks.


    Habif TP. Vascular tumors and malformations. In: Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology. 5th ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 23.


    • Stork bite


    • Hemangioma on the face (...


    • Hemangioma on the chin


      • Stork bite


      • Hemangioma on the face (...


      • Hemangioma on the chin


      A Closer Look

        Self Care

          Tests for Birthmarks - red

            Review Date: 11/20/2012

            Reviewed By: Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.

            The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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