Because salmon patches are most often found on the nape of the neck, they’re frequently referred to as stork bites, which is as good a description as any. They can also appear at the root of the nose (the glabellas) and on the forehead, the eyelids, and the upper lip. When they appear in these areas, people often call them angel’s kisses, again, as good an explanation as any. In contrast to the Mongolian spot, the salmon patch is the routine birthmark of the light-complexioned newborn. Girls are slightly more likely to have them than boys. They fade quickly and are usually gone by the end of the first year. Those on the back of the neck have a 50-50 chance of lasting into adulthood, but since they’re covered with hair, who really cares? Though the salmon patch itself has no medical significance, it can be confused with another flat capillary birthmark, the port wine stain (nevus flammeus).
This birthmark is red to purple in color and can cover large areas of the body. Unlike the salmon patch, the port wine stain won’t lose its color when you push on it, and, most importantly, this birthmark is permanent and is often associated with problems in the eyes and nervous system. So, for both cosmetic and medical reasons, it’s important to determine whether the baby has a salmon patch or a port wine stain. Red-Purple Bumps: Strawberry Mark (Cavernous Hemangioma) Like the flat salmon parch, this mark is the result of a clustering of extra capillaries, but it differs in many other aspects. In the first place, strawberry marks aren’t present at birth. They begin to develop during the third to fourth week, and only 10 percent appear after one month. At first, the marks are either tiny, bright specks or threadlike streaks and are often surrounded by a zone of pale skin. During the next six months, they grow rapidly into sharply defined, raised, dark red or purple, rough-surfaced swellings that look for all the world like the outside slice of a slightly overripe strawberry. Tiny streaks of capillaries can be seen around the swellings. Pushing on them will partially, but not completely, blanch them. Strawberry marks seem to follow a standard course. They stop growing by the time the baby is eight months old or, at the latest, the first birthday. During the second year of life, they begin their disappearing act. Half of the strawberries are gone by five years of age, 70 percent by seven, and 90 percent by nine.
They fade away by developing grayish streaks on the surface, usually at the center of the swelling. The gray areas gradually come together, until the entire swelling becomes pink-gray. Eventually, the mark totally vanishes, leaving no traces except, in rare instances, an area of slightly puckered skin. Roughly 8 to 10 percent of children under one year old have strawberry marks. Like other capillary-derived birthmarks, they’re seen more often in girls than boys and somewhat more often in prematurely born babies. They’re usually single marks, though about one fifth of children with strawberries have a bunch. They can occur anywhere on the body, but their favorite location is the head and neck area, with the trunk playing second fiddle. Because of their frequent appearance on the head and their habit of early and rapid growth, strawberry marks can generate a lot of worry.
This is the perfect moment for you to follow my favorite dictum: Don’t just do something, stand there. If you feel that some action is called for, take pictures. When it comes to treating strawberry marks, no one can equal the success rate of Mother Nature. Treating strawberry marks by surgery, dry ice, and so on produces ten times the complication rate of those left to nature’s curative powers, and the results are not so good! Of course, if the mark triples or quadruples in size within a few weeks, or if its location is particularly bothersome, such as over an eye or in the voice box, or if its location is causing it to bleed a lot or get infected, then some form of active treatment will be considered by your doctor. Otherwise, leave it alone.