What Causes Strawberry Birthmarks and What You Can Do About Them?

Approximately two percent of infants are born with a strawberry birthmark. They are soft raised red lumps found on the babies skin that usually look like a strawberry, normally about the size of a 25 cent piece, although they may get much larger. They may also be called cavernous hemangioma or capillary hemangioma if they appear blue in color or are deeper in the skin.

With one in fifty babies affected, what causes a strawberry birthmark is a question that will be asked quite a few times. These birthmarks have blood vessels which have increased in size, which causes the skin to have a red or strawberry colored blemish. They are not a sign of poor health and, you will be happy to know, are in no way linked to cancer They can be found anywhere on the skins surface but of course are more noticeable when found on the face or head. The birthmarks are sometimes not even noticed at birth but will appear within the first month or so. In extremely rare cases they may become ulcerated, bleed, become infected or grow quite large. Strawberry birthmarks are more prevalent in premature infants.

Many stories have cropped up over the years about strawberry birthmarks but, as a parent, you should not feel the least bit responsible. These birthmarks normally fade on their own and do not need any treatment. Sometimes a larger blemish, especially around the eye, may require treatment as they sometimes can affect the vision. Corticosteroid injections directly into the area may shrink the blood vessels and reduce the size of the birthmark. In extremely rare occasions surgery to reduce the size or remove the birthmark may be required. Laser treatments are another option when treatment is required. This is normally only used to treat an ulcerated or bleeding birthmark.

Strawberry birthmarks sometimes will continue to grow for up to six months but after this period of growth is done they will then start to shrink and fade. Studies have shown that approximately half of the birthmarks will be completely gone by the time the child is five years old. Also more than 90 percent will be gone before the age of ten. Fading and shrinkage is in no way effected by the size, location or the number of strawberry birthmarks.

Often the skin covering the birthmarks will appear thin and baggy after the mark has faded. This can be corrected with minor plastic surgery. The biggest concern that a parent may have is the sometimes rapid growth seen in the birthmark during the first six months or so. What started out as a small blemish can become a very noticeable mark on your child's body, especially if it is on the face. After this first rapid spurt of growth the size of the blemish will only increase proportionally with the child's growth. Gradually, over the next few years, the red coloration will begin to fade and the mark will begin to shrink. More often than not there will be little or no mark left. However, there may be a slight scar left over. Strawberry birthmarks completely disappear in over half of children by age five and 90 percent will be gone by age ten. The rest will gradually fade by the time the child becomes a teenager.