After the birth of your baby, you may sit for hours examining every inch of their tiny body. You may notice every dimple, freckle, and might see a birthmark or two.
A birthmark is a colored mark that appears on a newborn’s skin at birth. They can also appear within the first month of life. These marks can be found anywhere on the skin, including your baby’s:
There are different types of birthmarks. Some are small and barely noticeable, but others are large. Some birthmarks have a smooth, flat appearance, while others appear as a bump on the skin.
One common birthmark is a stork bite, also known as a salmon patch, or strawberry mark.
What’s a Stork Bite?
Stork bite birthmarks are common. They appear on 30 to 50 percent of newborn babies.
A stork bite has a distinctive pink, flat appearance. This makes them easy to identify.
These birthmarks can appear in the following areas on your baby:
- back of neck
What Causes a Stork Bite?
It’s normal to have questions and concerns about any marks that appear on your baby’s skin.
If you don’t know a lot about birthmarks, you may panic or believe the mark was caused by trauma at birth. You may blame yourself or think you could have done something differently while pregnant.
It’s important to understand that birthmarks are extremely common. They can be inherited, but often, there’s no known cause.
In the case of a stork bite, the birthmark develops when blood vessels underneath the skin become stretched or dilated. Salmon or pink patches appear as a result. Your baby’s birthmark may be more visible when they’re upset or crying, or if there’s a change in room temperature.
Will a Stork Bite Disappear?
A stork bite birthmark is a benign patch on your newborn’s skin, so treatment isn't necessary. A newborn’s appearance changes as the skin develops and thickens. A stork bite may appear less noticeable or completely disappear as your baby gets older.
More than 95 percent of stork bite birthmarks lighten and fade away completely. If the birthmark appears on the back of your baby’s neck, it might never fade completely. But the mark should become less visible as your newborn grows hair.
There's no specific test for diagnosing a stork bite birthmark, but your newborn’s doctor can identify the birthmark during a routine physical exam.
Laser Treatments for Stork Bites
Stork bites vary in size, but you may have concerns about a sizable birthmark that doesn’t disappear after several years. Laser treatments are one option for reducing the size and appearance of a stork bite. Although this is an option, you should wait until your child is older to see if the mark becomes bothersome.
Laser treatments target the blood vessels underneath the skin. They are painless and effective, but can take more than one treatment to receive the desired results.
If you decide against laser treatments, your child may be able to camouflage the birthmark with makeup later in life.
When to Notify a Doctor
Typically, birthmarks don’t cause any problems and don’t require medical attention. But a stork bite that develops days after taking your newborn home from the hospital can be alarming. If you’re concerned, don’t hesitate to notify your pediatrician of any changes to your newborn’s appearance.
Your doctor can examine your baby and check the mark to make sure it’s a birthmark and not a skin disorder. It’s also important to notify your doctor if your baby’s birthmark bleeds, itches, or appears painful.
Stork bites are not typically permanent, but a small percentage of newborns have them for life. If your baby has a mark on their face that doesn’t go away, you may deal with staring, or get asked rude questions from strangers or family.
This can be frustrating, but don’t think you have to give a long explanation. Simply explain that it’s a birthmark. If questions become intrusive or uncomfortable, express how you feel.
A permanent stork bite can be especially challenging for young children. Talk to your child about the birthmark and answer any questions they may have. You can also help your child prepare a response in case classmates ask about a mark on his forehead, face, or neck.