A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Strawberry birthmarks, port wine stains: Treatable for kids

Mom kissing infant daughter on cheek with dad near by

Parents, if your very young infants develop strawberry birthmarks, dark port wine stains and other skin disorders, and you’re concerned, you’re not alone.

And there’s help.

Dr. Thomas McIntee, a Marshfield Clinic pediatric dermatologist, treats many skin problems in children from acne, warts and eczema to more complex conditions like vascular lesions and strawberry birthmarks (also called hemangiomas”) and port wine stains.

Strawberry birthmarks in kids

Some childhood skin conditions, like hemangiomas, are more than skin deep.

“As a child ages, these lesions will thicken and can be very painful or bleed. Many of these complications can be avoided,” McIntee said. “Depending on where they’re located, hemangiomas can affect a child’s vision and ability to eat, and can create a scar.”

Hemangiomas form in 3-5 percent of infants and often disappear on their own over several years. Birthmarks in vital areas such as near the eye, mouth, spine, genitals and buttocks should be evaluated to see if treatment would help.

Early treatment works best

“Treatment is most effective if started early,” said McIntee, one of the few experts offering this treatment in Wisconsin. “Ideally, infants should be evaluated by 4 weeks of life.”

Treatment, if needed, may include a topical cream called Timolol.  More significant hemangiomas may require an internal medication, like Propranolol.

Propranolol can affect heart rate and blood pressure so the first dose needs to be given in the doctor’s office with monitoring or in the hospital if the infant is less than 8 weeks old.

Laser treatment of hemangiomas can be performed on older lesions on children ages 4-5, or rarely if a hemangioma has developed an open sore.

Treating port wine stains with lasers

Crimson red birth marks, known as port wine stains, may cause problems  in certain locations on the face and likely would benefit from laser treatments.

Laser treatments on the arms, legs, chest and back can also be completed.

“Office-based laser treatment can lighten these marks over time,” McIntee said.

Request an appointment.

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