Birthmarks

Birthmarks are coloured marks on the skin that are present at birth or soon afterwards. Most are harmless and disappear without treatment, but some may need to be treated.

Types of birthmark

Flat, red or pink areas of skin (salmon patches or stork marks)

There are many different types of birthmark.

A baby's face with salmon patches on their eyelids and forehead

Salmon patches:

Raised red lumps (strawberry marks or haemangiomas)

Strawberry marks:

Red, purple or dark marks (port wine stains)

A port wine birthmark on a person's cheek, nose and upper lip

Port wine stains:

Flat, light or dark brown patches (cafe-au-lait spots)

Close-up of a flat, light brown patch on a person's skin

Cafe-au-lait spots:

Blue-grey spots

Large, dark blue-grey patch that looks like a bruise on a baby's thigh

These birthmarks:

If your baby is born with a blue-grey spot it should be recorded on their medical record.

Brown or black moles (congenital moles or congenital melanocytic naevi)

Congenital moles:

Information:

Find out about other types of birthmark:

The Birthmark Support Group has information about other types of birthmark and getting help and support.

Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:

  • you're worried about a birthmark
  • a birthmark is close to the eye, nose, or mouth
  • a birthmark has got bigger, darker or lumpier
  • a birthmark is sore or painful
  • your child has 6 or more cafe-au-lait spots
  • you or your child has a large congenital mole

The GP may ask you to check the birthmark for changes, or they may refer you to a skin specialist (dermatologist).

Treatment for birthmarks

Most birthmarks do not need treatment, but some do. This is why it's important to get a birthmark checked if you're worried about it.

A birthmark can be removed on the NHS if it's affecting a person's health. If you want a birthmark removed for cosmetic reasons, you'll have to pay to have it done privately.

Possible treatments for birthmarks include:

Page last reviewed: 4 February 2020
Next review due: 4 February 2023