Medically referred to as congenital nevi, birthmarks are colored marks on the skin that develop before or soon after birth. HealthHearty provides information on the causes and meaning of the benign angel's kiss birthmark.
Did You Know?
1 in every 10 babies has a vascular birthmark by the age of 1 year. More than 40% of newborns have salmon patches, which are flat, pinkish-red patches that mostly occur on the forehead (between the eyebrows), eyelids, above the lips, or on the nape of the neck.
Birthmarks are the most common type of vascular anomalies. More often than not, these marks disappear by the age of 2 years. However, certain marks can remain for life. Birthmarks are often classified into pigmented birthmarks and vascular birthmarks. While the former develop due to the presence of excess skin pigment cells, the latter develop due to the overgrowth (dilation or malformation) of blood vessels. Moles, Mongolian spots (bluish patches), and cafe-au-lait spots (oval-shaped light brown spots) are placed under the category of pigmented birthmarks, whereas port-wine stains, salmon patches, and hemangiomas are categorized under vascular birthmarks.
Angel’s kiss and stork bite are placed in the category of salmon patches. Also referred to as nevus simplex, salmon patches appear due to capillary malformations. These are pale pink to red in color, and have jagged or indistinct borders. These are benign patches that are likely to fade by the time the child attains 2 years of age. The angel’s kiss birthmark is commonly seen on the glabella, which is the prominence of the frontal bone between and above the eyebrows. This birthmark could also develop on the eyelids. When the mark is on the nape of the neck, it is referred to as the stork bite.
Myths Associated With Birthmarks
As per old wives’ tales or folklore, birthmarks are mostly associated with the mother’s unfulfilled desires during the course of pregnancy. According to these tales, the child might have a red mark, if the mother’s sudden craving for strawberries is not fulfilled. Tales also suggest that these marks could appear, if the mother-to-be has a strange experience or anything that evokes fear in her, if the expectant mother touches her belly during an eclipse. Some even suggest that these marks represent the location of a traumatic injury in a previous life. The birthmark on the forehead is believed to be a mark left by an angel’s kiss, hence the name.
Causes of Angel’s Kiss Birthmark
While some might link birthmarks to the occult, the angel’s kiss birthmark is basically a cluster of immature dermal blood vessels (capillaries) that is visible through the skin. It must be noted that the affected skin doesn’t feel different from the rest of the body, and the mark doesn’t affect the texture of the skin. These are flat and irregularly-shaped patches. Since these are benign and don’t cause pain or itching, medical treatment is not really required.
While an angel’s kiss birthmark is observed on the forehead and the eyelids, sometimes it can be seen on the nasolabial folds, the upper lip, and sacral area. These marks fade with time, and mostly disappear by the time the child reaches the age of 2-3 years. However, stork bite mark seems to be more persistent. Often, these marks are pale pink in color, but become more prominent when the child is crying or straining. Since these are caused due to the dilation of the capillaries that lie close to the surface of the skin, these become more prominent when more blood circulates through the capillaries. A salmon patch appears to be prominent during crying episodes. While crying, the baby holds his/her breath, which causes the oxygen level to reduce. As a result, the blood vessels dilate to diffuse the heat and supply oxygenated blood to the face. The increased blood low to the face makes the mark appear more prominent. While the mark on the forehead and eyelids fade as the child grows, the patch on the nape of the neck could persist, and remain for life in 25% of the cases.
Mostly, the patches are present on both the eyelids, and on both sides of the mid line. The angel’s kiss and stork bite birthmarks must not be confused with port-wine stains. As the name suggests, port-wine stains are purplish red in color, in comparison to the pale-pink salmon patches. color of the lesions. Port-wine stains are not very common, and can be seen in about 0.3% of newborns.
The exact cause of birthmarks is not well-understood, and there are no scientific reasons for why some babies are born with birthmarks, while others aren’t. However, there’s no denying the fact that birthmarks cannot be prevented. While medical treatment is not required for salmon patches and certain types of moles, certain types of birthmarks can become a cause of cosmetic concern. Under such circumstances, certain techniques can be used to conceal or remove the marks.