Types of birthmarks

The word birthmark is a general term used to describe skin anomalies that are present from birth. It should not be used as a specific diagnosis, since these skin lesions can be very different in their appearance, treatment and outcome. Many birthmarks, such as infantile hemangiomas or vascular anomalies, are made up of blood vessels.

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Below are some of the more common birthmarks, their signs and symptoms. Learn more about the Birthmarks and Vascular Anomalies Center at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin.


Color/lesion Birthmark Location Other 
Brown/macule or patch Cafe-au-lait macule Variable, trunk Can sometimes be associated with neurofibromatosis
Brown (<20 cm)/plaque Congenital melanocytic nevus Scalp, trunk  Possible increased risk of melanoma 
Brown(>20 cm)/plaque Giant melanocytic nevus Trunk most common 3-7 percent risk of melanoma, neurocutaneous melanosis
Brown-flesh colored/plaque Epidermal nevus  Variable, trunk and neck   
Red/patch  Port-wine stain  Variable, face most common 
Red/papule or plaque  Hemangioma Variable, head and neck most common  
Red-purple/plaque  Lymphatic malformation  Variable, trunk, proximal leg  Often have a vesicular appearance 
Gray -blue/patch Mongolian spot (dermal melanosis) Buttocks, lower trunk  Usually resolve spontaneously 
Gray-blue/patch Nevus of Ota   Forehead and eyelids  Ocular pigmentation 
Gray-blue/patch  Nevus of Ito  Posterior shoulder   
Blue/nodule  Dermoid cyst  Scalp, face, neck  May connect to CNS if midline
Blue-purple/nodule Cephalohematoma Scalp  
Blue-purple/plaque  Venous malformation  Variable  Enlarge slowly over time 
Yellow-orange/plaque Nevus sebaceus  Scalp, face, neck  Basal cell carcinoma may arise within lesion
Yellow-orange/nodule Congenital juvenile xanthogranuloma  Trunk   
Yellow-brown/papule or nodule  Mastocytoma Variable  May become urticarial or blister 
Hypertrichosis (extra hair)/plaque Congenital melanocytic nevus  Scalp, trunk   
Hypertrichosis (extra hair)/tumor  Plexiform neurofibroma  Trunk most common 
White/patch  Nevus anemicus  Variable   
White/patch  Nevus depigmentosis  Variable