Birthmark Questions

Port-wine Stains

Less than 1 percent of newborns have these birthmarks, which commonly appear on the head or neck. Port-wine stains appear pink or red at first and then become more noticeable and gradually get darker. They usually don't fade and sometimes develop rough bumps on the surface over time.

A small percentage of kids who have a port-wine stain on the forehead, scalp, or around the eye are diagnosed with Sturge-Weber syndrome, a neurologic disorder that can cause seizures, developmental delays, and paralysis on one side. Port-wine stains on the forehead or around the eye have also been linked to glaucoma, so a baby with one should be evaluated by an ophthalmologist.

Lasers can lighten or remove the discoloration caused by a port-wine stain. Don't wait: This remedy tends to work best within a child's first year, according to Sheila Fallon Friedlander, M.D., section chief of pediatric dermatology at Rady Children's Hospital, in San Diego.

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