Types of birthmark
Birthmarks are very common and there are many different
types. They vary in size and colour, some fade away over time but
others are permanent. Birthmarks can be apparent at birth, but also
appear over time.
The NHS only provides a limited list of the different types of
birthmarks. What we have tried to achieve here is a more
comprehensive overview of the majority of common and not so common
types. We have followed the ISSVA (International Society for
the Study of Vascular Anomalies) classification which
is followed by the world's leading specialists.
Most birthmarks are caused by a problem with the tiny blood
vessels (arteries and veins) in the skin - these are called
vascular birthmarks. These are divided into two groups which are
called Vascular tumours (non-malignant) and Vascular malformations.
There are also a few types of birthmarks that are non-vascular.
Approximately one in three babies are born with a type
Doctors still do not know what causes some children to develop
birthmarks or how they get there. What they do know is that they
aren't caused by anything a mother does during her pregnancy, and
there's absolutely no way to prevent them. The vast majority are
harmless and most fade away within weeks or a few years of
A small percentage can present problems so all
birthmarks need to be diagnosed correctly to see if treatment is
Some of the different types of birthmarks are:
These are abnormal growths formed from blood vessels of the skin or skin tissue.
These are abnormalities relating to blood vessels such as arteries, veins, capillaries, or lymphatic vessels.
Slow-flow vascular malformations
Fast-flow vascular malformations
Other birthmarks / non-vascular birthmarks
These are birthmarks which do not relate to blood vessels but the skin's pigmentation.