Red birthmarks, also known as vascular birthmarks, are markings on the skin that result from the formation of blood vessels close to the skin’s surface. Vascular birthmarks are one of the two categories of birthmarks, including pigmented birthmarks. While red birthmarks are related to blood vessels, pigmented birthmarks are skin areas where the color of the birthmark is different from the rest of the skin. Red birthmarks typically appear at birth. There is currently no way to prevent red birthmarks from developing, either.
Our board-certified dermatologists in Gainesville, FL, offer innovative therapies and treatments for various skin conditions, including red birthmarks, in our state-of-the-art facility. Contact Gainesville Dermatology & Skin Surgery to schedule an appointment and learn about our available treatments.
What Are Birthmarks?
Birthmarks are colored marks or discolorations present at the time of birth or develop soon after birth. They are caused by an overgrowth or clustering of pigment cells or blood vessels in specific skin areas. There are two main birthmarks: pigmented birthmarks and vascular birthmarks. While birthmarks are generally harmless, some may be associated with underlying medical conditions, so it is important to have any unusual or changing birthmarks evaluated by your Gainesville dermatology provider.
What Are Red Birthmarks?
A red birthmark is a vascular birthmark that appears on the skin as red or pink patches or raised bumps on the skin. They are caused by an overgrowth of blood vessels in a particular area of the skin. There are several common vascular birthmark types: hemangiomas, port-wine stains, and salmon patches.
A hemangioma is a common type of vascular birthmark. Hemangiomas are typically painless and harmless, and their cause is unknown. Coloring on the skin from hemangiomas comes from the extensive development of blood vessels at the site beneath the skin. There are two main types of hemangiomas: strawberry hemangiomas and cavernous hemangiomas.
A strawberry hemangioma also referred to as a strawberry mark, nevus vascularis, capillary hemangioma, hemangioma simplex, or strawberry nevus, is a type of hemangioma that can appear anywhere on the body, though they are most common on the face, scalp, chest, or back. Strawberry marks consist of tiny, closely packed blood vessels. Strawberry hemangiomas may be seen on the skin at birth and may develop after several weeks.
Over time, they go through strawberry hemangioma stages relatively quickly, remaining fixed in size before subsiding. In most cases, strawberry hemangiomas disappear by the age of 9 or 10. If the strawberry hemangioma disappears, some slight discoloration or puckering of the skin may remain in its place. A strawberry hemangioma can be superficial, deep, or combined.
- Superficial hemangiomas. This type of hemangioma may appear as a flat or raised red birthmark, usually bright red.
- Deep hemangiomas. Deep or cavernous hemangiomas develop in deeper tissue, often appearing as blue or purple.
- Combined hemangiomas. These hemangiomas are a mixture of superficial and deep hemangiomas.
A cavernous hemangioma also called a deep hemangioma, is similar to a strawberry hemangioma, but is more deeply situated in the skin. Cavernous hemangiomas may appear as red-blue-colored, spongy masses of blood-filled tissue. After they appear, cavernous hemangiomas may disappear on their own, usually in the early years of life when children approach school age.
A port-wine stain is a flat red birthmark of dilated blood capillaries. Port-wine stains are permanent birthmarks present from birth. Sometimes called a red wine birthmark, a port-wine stain is named for its appearance as a maroon-wine color splashed on the skin. This type of birthmark typically appears on the face, though it can also affect other areas of the body and may vary in size. These flat, purple, or red marks are often permanent unless treated and may darken over time, which may cause emotional distress.
Commonly referred to as stork bites, macular stains, or angel kisses, salmon patches may appear on up to half of all newborn babies. These faint, red-colored marks on the skin are among the most common type of vascular birthmarks. Macular stains typically appear on the forehead, eyelids, back of the neck, nose, upper lip, or back of the head. They are caused by a concentration of immature blood vessels and may be the most visible when the baby cries. The majority of salmon patches fade and disappear completely over time.