Birthmarks are blemishes on the skin that are noticeable at birth, or shortly afterwards. A significant proportion of newborns have a birthmark.

Vascular birthmarks - a red, pink or purple blemish - are caused by abnormal blood vessels under the skin. Some people are born with pigmented birthmarks; these are usually brown and are caused by the clustering of pigment cells. In this article we will look at the types of birthmarks and their causes, complications and treatments.

What are birthmarks?

Nobody really knows what the causes of birthmarks are. Experts say that vascular birthmarks are not hereditary. Birthmarks are less common in Asian people, compared to individuals from other parts of the world. According to folklore in Spain, Italy and some Arabic countries, birthmarks are caused by the unsatisfied wishes of the mother during pregnancy. For example, if a craving for strawberries was not satisfied, her child would be born with a strawberry mark on his/her skin. Birthmarks used to be called "voglie" in Italian, "antojos" in Spanish, and "wiham" in Arabic - meaning "wishes" or "whims."