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birthmark

Congenital abnormality of the skin, usually not serious. The commonest is a mole, caused by an abnormal accumulation of skin pigment. The dark spots are sometimes large and hairy, and can be a cosmetic problem. New-born infants sometimes have small white spots on their nose and cheeks (milia), or light red colouring of the nose, eyelids and neck as a result of swollen blood vessels; these disappear of their own accord. Genuine tumours of the blood vessels occur less frequently. They are not always visible at birth, but grow rapidly for about 6 months and then fade spontaneously, in contrast with a strawberry mark (naevus), which is present at birth, grows, and does not disappear. A lymphatic tumour may also be present in the form of a soft, colourless growth. Children with darker pigmentation sometimes have a dark blue patch on the buttocks, caused by accumulation of pigment. Most of these birthmarks disappear spontaneously, but some need treatment by a family doctor or surgeon.

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