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Also called: Cafe au lait spot, Hemangioma, Mongolian spot, Nevus, Strawberry mark
Birthmarks are abnormalities of the skin that are present when a baby is born. There are two types of birthmarks. Vascular birthmarks are made up of blood vessels that haven’t formed correctly. They are usually red. Two types of vascular birthmarks are hemangiomas and port-wine stains. Pigmented birthmarks are made of a cluster of pigment cells which cause color in skin. They can be many different colors, from tan to brown, gray to black, or even blue. Moles can be birthmarks.
No one knows what causes many types of birthmarks, but some run in families. Your baby’s doctor will look at the birthmark to see if it needs any treatment or if it should be watched. Pigmented birthmarks aren’t usually treated, except for moles. Treatment for vascular birthmarks includes laser surgery.
Most birthmarks are not serious, and some go away on their own. Some stay the same or get worse as you get older. Usually birthmarks are only a concern for your appearance. But certain types can increase your risk of skin cancer. If your birthmark bleeds, hurts, itches, or becomes infected, call your health care provider.
Giant congenital melanocytic nevus is a skin condition characterized by an abnormally dark, noncancerous skin patch (nevus) that is composed of pigment-producing cells called melanocytes. It is present from birth (congenital) or is noticeable soon after birth. The nevus may be small in infants, but it will usually grow at the same rate the body grows and will eventually be at least 40 cm (15.75 inches) across. The nevus can appear anywhere on the body, but it is more often found on the trunk or limbs. The color ranges from tan to black and can become darker or lighter over time. The surface of a nevus can be flat, rough, raised, thickened, or bumpy; the surface can vary in different regions of the nevus, and it can change over time. The skin of the nevus is often dry and prone to irritation and itching (dermatitis). Excessive hair growth (hypertrichosis) can occur within the nevus. There is often less fat tissue under the skin of the nevus; the skin may appear thinner there than over other areas of the body.People with giant congenital melanocytic nevus may have more than one nevus (plural: nevi). The other nevi are often smaller than the giant nevus. Affected individuals may have one or two additional nevi or multiple small nevi that are scattered over the skin; these are known as satellite or disseminated nevi.Affected individuals may feel anxiety or emotional stress due to the impact the nevus may have on their appearance and their health. Children with giant congenital melanocytic nevus can develop emotional or behavior problems.Some people with giant congenital melanocytic nevus develop a condition called neurocutaneous melanosis, which is the presence of pigment-producing skin cells (melanocytes) in the tissue that covers the brain and spinal cord. These melanocytes may be spread out or grouped together in clusters. Their growth can cause increased pressure in the brain, leading to headache, vomiting, irritability, seizures, and movement problems. Tumors in the brain may also develop.Individuals with giant congenital melanocytic nevus have an increased risk of developing an aggressive form of cancer called melanoma, which arises from melanocytes. Estimates vary, but it is generally thought that people with giant congenital melanocytic nevus have a 5 to 10 percent lifetime risk of developing melanoma. Melanoma commonly begins in the nevus, but it can develop when melanocytes that invade other tissues, such as those in the brain and spinal cord, become cancerous. When melanoma occurs in people with giant congenital melanocytic nevus, the survival rate is low.Other types of tumors can also develop in individuals with giant congenital melanocytic nevus, including soft tissue tumors (sarcomas), fatty tumors (lipomas), and tumors of the nerve cells (schwannomas).