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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Ringworm is a common fungal infection, especially among children, that appears on different parts of the body. It is characterized by ring-shaped, scaly and itchy patches of the skin. The patches may blister or ooze fluid. Ringworm is contagious and can be passed from person to person or through contact with contaminated personal care products, clothing or linens. Pets, particularly cats, can also pass on the infection.
The fungi are attracted to warm, moist environments, which is why the most common forms of ringworm include:
- Tinea Barbae, which occurs on bearded areas of the face and neck.
- Tinea Capitus, which occurs on the scalp.
- Tinea Cruris, also known as Jock Itch, occurs in the groin area.
- Tinea Pedis, also known as Athlete's Foot, occurs between the toes.
Ringworm generally responds well to home remedies and will disappear in about four weeks. In addition to keeping the area clean and dry, you can apply over-the-counter antifungal powders, lotions or creams. In more severe cases, your dermatologist may recommend prescription antifungal medications and antibiotics.