Did you know that one in three babies is born with a birthmark? Most are caused by a problem with the tiny blood vessels in the skin – these are called vascular birthmarks and they’re divided into two groups called vascular tumours (non-malignant) and vascular malformations. There are also a few types of birthmarks that are non-vascular.
They aren’t caused by anything a mother does during her pregnancy and there's absolutely no way to prevent them.
Birthmarks may also need special care at home. Haemangiomas (also known as strawberry birthmarks) are one of the most common types (one in ten babies has one) – the surface can be very delicate and dries out easily, so avoid bubble bath and wash off any soap or shampoo very carefully. Baby wipes can also be irritating, so avoid using these on the birthmark. Applying a thin layer of Vaseline or Diprobase (an emollient) twice a day can help stop it drying out.
They also need protection from the sun, as do many other types of birthmark such as port wine stains (also known as capillary malformations). Use a high-factor, perfume-free, hypoallergenic suncream, such as Sunsense, and combine with a hat or clothing and an umbrella over the buggy to protect birthmarks from the sun. This is sometimes available on prescription, so ask your GP.
While most will never cause a child problems, a small percentage can, so all birthmarks need to be diagnosed correctly to see if treatment is needed. If you need help with this, the Birthmark Support Group has a comprehensive list of birthmark descriptions on its website (birthmarksupportgroup.org.uk).
If referral to a specialist dermatologist is needed, the BSG can also help with this. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07825 855888.