Types of Birthmarks
Birthmarks can be extremely varied from person to person, and they can appear anywhere on the body. However, there are a few common types of birthmarks:
Café au lait spot: These birthmarks are typically oval or round in shape and they are light brown in color – similar to the tone of a café au lait.
Port-wine stain: Usually present at birth, these birthmarks can vary in size and tone. However, they are most commonly pink or deep red in color as well as irregularly shaped and large in size. This is because port-wine stains are caused by abnormally dilated blood vessels below the skin’s surface.
What are Moles?
Moles are a collection of pigmentation cells on the surface of the skin that tend to develop with age. As we get older, we are more likely to develop more moles across our body. These growths can be flat or raised, and they can be a variety of colors between light brown, dark brown, black, and even a blueish hue.
Since moles are made up of collections of pigmentation cells, they may change over time. Pregnancy, puberty, hormonal therapy, and sun exposure can also cause moles to change in color or shape.
Though moles are usually benign, your genetics and extended sun exposure may make it more likely for a benign mole to become malignant.
This is why it is very important for individuals with a lot of moles, freckles, brown spots, and birthmarks to see a dermatologist regularly to monitor for any abnormal developments. It is important to catch changes in moles and brown spots early because treatment is less invasive when malignant growths are found as soon as possible.
How to Tell if Moles are Dangerous
If you have a lot of moles, birthmarks, or brown spots on your skin, it is important for you to schedule annual full body skin examinations so that your dermatologist can check for signs of skin cancer or any other changes.
However, you should also be keeping an eye on the health of your skin by examining with the ABCDE’s of moles at home.
A: Asymmetry – if you draw a line through a mole, the two halves should match. If not, this asymmetry is a cause of concern.
B: Border – the borders of your mole should be smooth and even. Melanoma tends to have rough, uneven, scalloped, or notched edges.
C: Color – if your mole is made up of different colors, like a mix of brown and black, this is a cause of concern.
D: Diameter – in general, melanomas usually are larger in diameter than the size of an eraser on your pencil, though they may be smaller when detected.
E: Evolving – when a mole is “evolving” in any way, such as if it is changing in shape or color, you should schedule an appointment to have it evaluated.
What Causes Birthmarks, Brown Spots, and Moles?
There are many different reasons why someone may develop birthmarks, brown spots, and moles. The most common cause of these types of conditions are an overgrowth of blood cells, melanocytes (which give your skin color), or keratinocytes.
Sun exposure can also cause brown spots to develop, and repeated sun exposure can also cause changes to occur in birthmarks, brown spots, and moles that already exist on your skin.
Treatment Options for Birthmarks, Brown Spots, and Moles
In many cases, there is no medical reason to treat birthmarks, brown spots, and moles. However, many people choose to have these conditions addressed for cosmetic reasons.
There are several ways that moles, birthmarks, and brown spots can be removed. Most commonly, removal of these lesions is relatively quick and painless as your dermatologist may opt for a small surgical procedure, freezing (cryosurgery), or burning (electrodesiccation) in order to remove them.
Leave your skincare to the experts. Birthmarks, brown spots, and moles are common and typically benign, yet they must be examined by a professional to rule out other serious skin conditions that may look similar to benign growths. If you would like to experience premier dermatological care to achieve beautiful and healthy skin, please schedule your appointment with Dr. Ip today.