Bubba has a birthmark — What should I do?

Is that a bruise on your baby or a Mongolian spot? Get help spotting and treating your munchkin’s birthmarks…

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Did you know that your little one might have a birthmark you haven’t seen yet! That’s because these birthmarks — also called beauty marks — don’t necessarily develop at birth. It might become apparent only after the first few weeks or months of his life. Therefore, even if your infant was checked by the doctor immediately after birth, you should continue to be vigilant to spot any changes in his skin.

Dr Lynn Chiam, a dermatologist at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital, explains that your newborn’s skin takes time to mature and darken over time. She says, “[This] eventually highlights the differences between normal and abnormal pigmentation [or any] anomalies of the skin.”

Paying careful attention to baby’s skin is a good way to guard against possible skin cancer. And even though skin cancer is extremely rare amongst babies, Dr Chiam says that a giant congenital mole will increase your little one’s chances of getting cancer. So, although his birthmarks might look superficial, some can point towards more sinister health issues! Dr Chiam spells out how to spot them:


Your newborn’s giant congenital mole has a 10 per cent chance of developing into a cancerous growth.

There are two distinct groups of birthmarks:
*Hyper-pigmentary birthmarks Usually darker in colour — from brown to black — these are caused by a cluster of pigmented cells. Examples include moles, as well as café-au-lait and Mongolian spots.
*Vascular birthmarks Often red, pink or purple in appearance, these are often the result of abnormal blood vessels below the skin. Examples include Salmon patches, haemangiomas and port-wine stains.

Moles

APPEARANCE Brown spots on the skin that can be smooth and round or appear to be a bump on the skin’s surface. Often no bigger than the size of a pencil eraser. Whether flat or protruding, most moles won’t disappear nor fade with time, but are harmless.
HEALTH RISKS Your newborn’s giant congenital mole has a 10 per cent chance of developing into a cancerous growth. On an infant’s head, a giant congenital mole measures about 9cm or more, and 6cm or more on his body, Dr Chiam explains. If it increases in rapidly size, turns darker or starts to bleed, get it checked by the doctors, stat! If you notice any moles that might look different from the others, it is vital you get these examined, too.
SOLUTION If your mini-me has a giant congenital mole, he may need the doctor to check it regularly. Smaller moles that appear flat on the skin can be removed by laser treatment. Bulging moles can be eradicated through surgical means.

Café-au-lait spots

APPEARANCE Like its name café-au-lait — French for coffee with milk — these look like light brown patches of skin. Occurring in 10 to 20 per cent of infants, these generally won’t lighten nor disappear over time.
HEALTH RISKS Spotting six or more café-au-lait blemishes anywhere on your kewpie’s body is a sign of neurofibromatosis Type 1 (NF1). Seizures and headaches are common in people suffering from NF1, which can cause complications like heart defects and high blood pressure. Children with NF1 may have poor language and visual-spatial skills, and hence, are weaker students. Even more terrifying, Dr Chiam says, “A very rare complication is the cancerous transformation of the neurofibromas (bumps).”
Other signs of NF1 include:
*At least two neurofibromas — bumps within the nerves close to the skin’s surface.
*At least two growths inside the eyes.
*Abnormal growth of the spine, leading to scoliosis.
*Freckling — clusters of brown spots — in the armpit or groin area.
SOLUTION If it’s not neurofibromatosis Type 1, laser treatment can lighten these blemishes, although frequent sessions may be required to achieve better results. Dr Chiam adds.

Click to discover other kinds of birthmarks…