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Alternative Names Return to topNevus sebaceous; Hairy nevus; Nevi; Mole; Cafe-au-lait spots; Congenital nevus
Definition Return to top
A birthmark is a skin marking that is present at birth. Birthmarks include cafe-au-lait spots, moles, and mongolian spots.
See also: Birthmarks - red
Causes Return to top
Cafe-au-lait spots may occur in people with the genetic disorder, neurofibromatosis.
Nearly everyone has moles, which usually appear after birth.
Mongolian spots are more commonly seen in darker-skinned populations.
Symptoms Return to top
Each type of birthmark has its own appearance:
Other symptoms of birthmarks:
Exams and Tests Return to top
Diagnosis is usually made based on the appearance of the skin area. A biopsy may be performed to look for cancerous changes.
Treatment Return to top
Treatment varies depending on the type of birthmark and related conditions. Usually no treatment is needed for the birthmark itself.
Large birthmarks that affect your appearance and self-esteem may be covered with special cosmetics.
Moles may be removed surgically if they affect your appearance or have an increased cancer risk. Discuss your options with your doctor to decide how and when to remove any moles.
Support Groups Return to top
Nevus Outreach -- www.nevus.org
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Large moles that are present at birth (congenital nevi) are more likely to become skin cancer (malignant melanoma). This is especially true if the mole covers an area larger than the size of a fist. The cancer risk is related to the size, location, shape, and color of the mole.
Mongolian spots may persist for months or years. They do NOT become cancer or develop other symptoms.
Possible Complications Return to top
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Have any birthmarks examined by a health care provider. Report any changes in the birthmark to your health care provider, including:
Prevention Return to top
There is no known way to prevent birthmarks. A person with birthmarks should use a good quality sunscreen when outdoors (to prevent complications).Update Date: 6/4/2009 Updated by: A.D.A.M. Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Greg Juhn, MTPW, David R. Eltz. Previously reviewed by Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network (10/11/2008).