Birthmarks are abnormal skin discolorations in spots that are either present at birth or appear shortly thereafter. They can be flat or slightly raised from the skin. They can be any number of colors, including red, brown, black, tan, pink, white or purple. Birthmarks are generally harmless. There are two major categories of birthmarks: pigmented birthmarks and red birthmarks.
Pigmented Birthmarks can grow anywhere on the skin and at any time. They are usually black, brown or skin-colored and appear singly or in groups. They can be moles (congenital nevi) that are present at birth, Mongolian spots, which look like bluish bruises and appear more frequently on people with dark skin, or café-au-lait spots that are flat, light brown or tan and roughly form an oval shape.
Red Birthmarks (also known as macular stains) develop before or shortly after birth and are related to the vascular (blood vessel) system. There are a number of different types:
- Angel kisses, which usually appear on the forehead and eyelids.
- Stork bites, which appear on the back of the neck, between the eyebrows on the forehead, or on eyelids of newborns. They may fade away as the child grows, but often persist into adulthood.
- Port-wine stains, which are flat deep-red or purple birthmarks made up of dilated blood capillaries (small blood vessels). They often appear on the face and are permanent.
- Strawberry hemangiomas, composed of small, closely packed blood vessels that grow rapidly and can appear anywhere on the body. They usually disappear by age nine.
- Cavernous hemangiomas are similar to strawberry hemangiomas but go more deeply into the layers of the skin. These can often be characterized by a bluish-purple color. They also tend to disappear naturally around school age.
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Considered a severe form of acne, hidradenitis suppurativa is a chronic skin inflammation that usually occurs deep in the skin in areas of the body with sweat glands, such as the groin or armpits. It is characterized by a combination of blackheads and red lesions that break open and drain pus, which may cause itching or sweating. As the red bumps grow in size, they can become more painful.
Hidradenitis suppurativa occurs when oil glands and hair follicles become blocked with sweat gland fluid, dead skin cells and other elements found in hair follicles. These substances become trapped and push out into the surrounding tissue. A break or cut of the skin then allows bacteria to enter the area and cause the inflammation.
Treatment depends on the severity of the condition. For mild cases, home remedies work well, such as warm compresses and regular washing with antibacterial soap. In more difficult cases, a topical or oral antibiotic medication may be needed to treat the infection. Your dermatologist may also prescribe oral retinoids to stop oil glands from plugging up the hair follicle; non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve pain and swelling; and corticosteroids.