Dr. Cole is board certified in dermatology. He obtained his BA degree in bacteriology, his MA degree in microbiology, and his MD at the University of California, Los Angeles. He trained in dermatology at the University of Oregon, where he completed his residency.
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
Birthmarks are composed of various types of normal tissue or pigment that
have lost their way to their normal destination during fetal development.
birthmarks are small and do not produce medical problems.
The most common
birthmarks are composed of either pigment-producing cells (melanocytes) or blood
Rarely, certain birthmarks can be a clue to a more serious medical
What is a birthmark?
Any mark, spot, or bump that is present in or
around the time of birth on the skin of an
infant is a birthmark. Mothers are
fond of giving these rather romantic names such as angel's kisses, stork bites,
or beauty marks. Most of these lesions are not particularly esthetically desirable.
What are the different types of birthmarks?
Birthmarks can be categorized according to their composition. Marks as a result of excessive
accumulations of melanin are called pigmented birthmarks, since the great
majority of them are brown to black. Other birthmarks appear lighter than the
rest of the skin due to a relative lack of melanin.
Some birthmarks are composed
of blood vessels and are called vascular birthmarks. They are generally red,
blue, or purple. Other birthmarks are composed of lymphatic tissue (cystic hygroma), breast tissue, mast cells, and epidermal tissue, which are often yellow
to flesh-colored or even hairy.
What are the characteristics of pigmented birthmarks?
Pigmented birthmarks can be flat or elevated.
They may simply be due to excessive deposition of melanin pigment in the
deeper layers of the skin called dermal melanosis. This is particularly common
in more heavily pigmented infants and is commonly called a Mongolian spot.
More frequently, there are accumulations of melanin produced by and contained in
pigment cells called melanocytes. The medical term for such a concentration of
melanin-producing cells is a nevus. These nevi are generally small, no larger
than ¼ inch diameter, however, they can be quite large, covering a
significant portion the infant's skin.
Reviewed by William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR on 9/30/2013