What Does a Baby Birthmark Mean?
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Chances are you have a birthmark. For some, they are a simple curiosity or conversation piece. For others, they can be a source of great discomfort and shame. In recent years, great strides have been made in treating and removing some forms of birthmarks with laser therapy. Unfortunately, some other birthmarks may indicate a larger health problem. These should be viewed with concern and quickly treated.
Birthmarks Through History
Birthmarks have long fired the imaginations of parents and scientists alike. As you might imagine, world cultures have compiled a good bit of folklore about birthmarks and their symbolic meanings. In Italian cultures, for example, they are called vogile, which means ‘wish.’ Legend has it that birthmarks represent unfulfilled wishes the mother made while pregnant. In Italian and Middle Eastern folklore, not satisfying a sudden craving or wish might leave a birthmark on the baby’s body; for example, a yearning for strawberries might result in a strawberry birthmark.
Birthmarks are also sometimes cause for speculation and widespread curiosity. Perhaps the most famous birthmark of recent times was on the forehead of Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev. His port wine stain birthmark covered a good part of his forehead, and was cause for satire and speculation among dozens of American comedians and commentators.
Different Kinds of Birthmarks
There are several different kinds of birthmarks.
An angel’s kiss or stork bite is found on half of all newborns but fade by their first birthday. They can appear on the neck, head or upper lip.
A Mongolian blue spot is irregular and flat and can be found on the lower back or bottom. They gradually fade over time.
Strawberry birthmarks are very common, and can appear anywhere on the body. Nine out of ten strawberry birthmarks disappear by the child’s tenth birthday.
Caf© Au Lait spots are light brown or tan, and named for the French coffee served with milk. They don’t fade with age but are generally not harmful when one or two occur on the body. Three or more can be a sign of a genetic disorder called Neurofibromatosis.
Congenital melanocytic nevus is a kind of birthmark with very little charm. They’re small, light brown, and irregularly shaped. They usually only occur in about one out of a hundred births. Larger birthmarks of this class could constitute or indicate a risk of skin cancer.
A port wine stain is a large, purplish or bluish mark that occurs in three in every one thousand births. Because they often appear on the forehead or face (as in Mr. Gorbachev’s case) they are often a source of social awkwardness and embarrassment. Recent strides in laser therapy have been greatly successful in permanently removing them.
Birthmark Treatment and Removal
Some birthmark owners are proud of their ‘decorative spots’ and some find them a source of humiliation ‘“ it’s really a case of individual preferences and tastes. Many cosmetics will effectively cover up most birthmarks, and there are a variety of other options including freezing and burning. But check with your doctor or a dermatologist before undergoing any procedures.