A new scientific discovery changes the rules regarding the treatment of congenital marks. American neurologists identified the mutant gene that is responsible for the development of marks on the face or body of babies. This discovery paves the way for new prevention treatments and promises to soon leave behind these spots that are really worrying for parents and mark their child’s life in many cases.
These marks or spots, with which thousands of children worldwide are born each year, are caused by the abnormal development of blood vessels on the skin. Researchers from the Kennedy Krieger Institute of Baltimore discovered a new mutant gene, and they demonstrated that it is responsible for the development of red or reddish spots, which are called port-wine stains, due to the colour of this particular wine variety. As published in the “New England Journal of Medicine”, this mutation occurs after conception and the condition is not hereditary. Now the focus of research studies is to find the proper medication that blocks the action of the guilty gene, thus preventing the development of unsightly spots.
Most birthmarks are harmless
Contrary to their name, birthmarks are not present at birth at all times. Some of them, haemangiomas for example, may develop some weeks later. Despite the fact that most birthmarks are permanent, there are a few types fade as a child grows. In any case parents should not start panicking since these birthmarks are usually harmless. Nevertheless, treatment may be required for some of them for cosmetic reasons or because of rapid growth, while others may be a sign of an underlying condition. In any case they should be examined by a dermatologist, while it should also be mentioned that Lasers constitute the most common treatment method.
As it can be understood by their name these spots have a light brown colour. They are common and they may develop at any part of the body. Usually no treatment is necessary when there is only one spot or just a few of them. However, if there are many of them (more than six), then they may be related to neurofibromatosis or other congenital conditions.
These are big nevi of dark colour and they are present at time of birth. Congenital nevi are usually found on the scalp or the trunk. They may have different sizes, from a few millimetres to some centimetres, thus covering greater areas. Children with congenital nevi – especially in cases of larger congenital nevi – have an increased risk of skin cancer in adulthood, which is why they should be monitored so that to identify any change in the size or appearance of the nevi.
Slate gray nevus – Mongolian Spots
A slate gray nevus or Mongolian blue spot a usually harmless, large, blue-gray birthmark, while sometimes they can be mistaken for a bruise. This type of birthmark is more common in children with darker skin colour and it usually appears on the lower back and, less commonly, on the buttocks, legs or arms. A slate gray nevus tends to fade during childhood and requires no treatment.
Port wine stain
A port-wine stain is a permanent birthmark present from birth. At the beginning a PWS appears pinkish or reddish and turns darker as the child grows. In most cases they appear on the face, but they may also affect other areas of the body, sometimes making the skin thicken slightly and develop an irregular, pebbled surface. Laser is the treatment of choice. Most PWS are not related to other diseases or conditions, but sometimes they may occur with Klippel-Trenaunay syndrome or Sturge-Weber syndrome. If this is the case, regular medical evaluation is essential.
Sometimes they are called angel kisses. Salmon patches are reddish or pink patches and they are commonly found above the hairline at the back of the neck, on the eyelids or between the eyes. They are caused by collections of capillary blood vessels close to the skin. Usually salmon patches located on the forehead, eyelids and eyes fade as time goes by, while the ones that develop at the back of the neck usually persist, although it is easier to cover them with the hair. No treatment is required.
Haemangiomas are pink or red birthmark that grow during the first few months after birth and usually recede over time. By age 10, a child who had a haemangioma in infancy may retain only a mark of the growth, which can be treated with the use of Lasers. Usually treatment is not essential, apart from cases of haemangiomas that grow fast, when treatment with the administration of drugs or with the use of Lasers should be considered.
Treatment is also essential in cases that the haemangioma causes problems in the child’s ability to function normally, like when a haemangioma is found near the eye (difficulty to see), the neck (difficulty in breathing), the mouth (difficulty to eat) or the groin (difficulty in urination). In addition to this, when a child has three or more haemangiomas, or has one haemangioma in the middle of the face, the neck or the scalp, or a haemangioma that covers a large part of the face, then examination is essential to exclude the possibility of internal haemangiomas that may also exist, or other conditions.