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If you’re been wondering what are birthmarks, the answer is simpler than you thought: these blemishes that can be spotted at birth or that appear shortly after the baby is born are often purple, red, pink or brown and are the result of pigment cells clustering or abnormal blood vessels. A great number of babies are born with birthmarks while scientists are still trying to answer the question what are birthmarks caused by?

What Are Birthmarks’ Causes

Scientists are still trying to elucidate the mystery, however, one thing is for certain: they are not hereditary. Certain folklores are not as dumbfounded as scientists, claiming that a baby will have a birthmark is the mother’s cravings are not satisfied. In Italy and Spain it is believed that pregnant women who can’t get their hands on strawberries when they’re craving the fruits will have a baby with a mark resembling a strawberry on their skin.

newborn with pale pink birthmark

Types of Birthmarks

No matter if it’s brown, pink, purple or bright red, it’s still a birthmark. There are two main categories we can divide birthmarks into:

1. Pigmented Birthmarks

This type of birthmarks will appear as a cause of skin pigment cells excess:

  • Moles – varying from light brown to black (for medium to dark skin tones), moles can appear anywhere on the body, and particularly in the neck and head area. Moles can have any shape, size, and feel (from flat to lumpy).
  • Café au lait spots – just like moles, café au lait spots can also appear on any part of the body. Their shape is often oval and their color ranges from brown to light brown. Café au lait spots can appear during the child’s first years. It’s not uncommon for a person to have one or two light brown spots on their body. These can stretch as the child grows older and increase in size.
  • Mongolian spots – this distinct birthmark can be blue, gray, deep brown or blue with black hints and has an irregular shape with wavy borders. It owes its name to being widespread among Mongolians. Although babies are born with a Mongolian spot, this birthmark will disappear by the time the child turns five or by puberty, at the latest.

2. Vascular Birthmarks

  • Macular stains – also known as a salmon patch, this type of birthmark is a flat, pink patch that often appears on the knees, the nape of the neck or the eyelids. The salmon patch doesn’t feel any different than regular skin.
  • Hemangiomas – strawberry marks are raised and red patches. In some cases, the strawberry mark will grow during the baby’s first five months of life and then fade away.
  • Port-wine stains – ranging from a deep wine red color to pale pinks, port-wine stains are often very large and appear as a consequence of nerve supplies being deprived of blood vessels.

Although we can’t give you the full answer to the question what are birthmarks, it’s worth keeping in mind that, most of the times, they are harmless and can even fade away by the time the child reaches puberty.

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Gabrielle Moreno

Hi, my name is Gabrielle, but all my friends call me Gaby. Having a degree in foreign languages, I first intended to develop a career in translations, but then I realized human interaction is more satisfying and got engaged in educational projects. Writing is my second best skill after teaching. I started writing about jobs and education based on my experience of not knowing what career path to choose. Sharing my knowledge and experience is the most rewarding aspect of my work, especially when I see it really touches people. Therefore, I look forward to reading your comments, thoughts and opinions. Feel free to contact me.

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