Port Wine Stain Birthmarks

Port wine stain birthmarks are red or purple in color and are often raised on the skin. Named after a wine of the same color, this type of birthmark is often located on a person's neck or face.

Also called nevus flammeus, the birthmark is more common than people think: 1 in 300 babies is born with the mark. The mark happens because of the malformation of the skin's blood vessels. Port wine stain birthmarks are often painless and they are not contagious. There is no way to know if a child will be born with this birthmark and no way to prevent against its appearance. There may be a genetic component to the birthmarks.

When a child is born, the birthmarks are easy to spot because they appear as dark red patches of skin on the child's face, neck or arms. It is important to keep an eye on these birthmarks if they appear on or near the eye. This is because the marks could be signs of a serious medical condition. For example, port wine stains that are located around the eye can signal that the child is at risk for developing glaucoma. Other associated medical conditions with the birthmarks include such Bonnet-Bechaume-Blanc, Beckwith-Weidemann, and Proteus syndromes, among others.

Port wine stain birthmarks may fade or grow darker with time. Some of these birthmarks may even appear to grow or become more textured. A port wine stain may fade a bit, but it is generally a permanent birthmark unless it is removed. The most common forms of removal include laser treatments or skin grafts. Additionally, some people decide to have the birthmark surgically removed if laser treatments prove ineffective or if the birthmark is resulting in embarrassment and social stigma. 

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