Mongolian spot birthmarks resemble bruises; however, there’s typically nothing to worry about if your baby has one. In fact, Mongolian spots are quite common in dark-skinned babies. Here’s what you should know about them.
What is a Mongolian spot?
Mongolian spots are flat birthmarks that are caused by a concentration of melanocytes in the skin; melanocytes are cells that are responsible for pigmentation. These birthmarks have irregular edges and are usually blue or blue-gray in colour, but they can also be brown. Despite the darker colour, the skin blends smoothly with the skin around it; there is no change in texture. The lower back and the buttocks are the most common places for these birthmarks to appear. Most are about 2 to 8 centimeters across, but they can be smaller or larger. Although these birthmarks are considered harmless, some research has shown that extensive Mongolian spots are sometimes associated with other conditions, so your child’s doctor may recommend medical testing.
Who gets Mongolian spots?
Mongolian spots are extremely common, and they appear most frequently in the following children with darker skin tones:
- Over 90 percent of children of Native American descent
- Over 90 percent of children of African descent
- Over 80 percent of children of Asian descent
- Over 70 percent of children of Hispanic descent
Less than 10 percent of children of Caucasian descent have Mongolian spots.
When do Mongolian spots appear?
Many babies are born with their Mongolian birthmarks. For others, the spots appear during the first few weeks of life.
Do Mongolian spots go away?
Yes, most fade on their own. Typically, children’s Mongolian spots get lighter around 2 years of age, and they go away entirely by the time that they turn 4. But, in some children, the process takes longer, and occasionally, the spots never fully disappear. If children’s spots are not gone by the time they reach puberty, they are likely to carry them into adulthood.
Can Mongolian spots be removed?
Treatment for Mongolian spots is not necessary. In the rare cases when the birthmarks continue into the teen or adult years, a person may opt to have laser removal treatment.
Although Mongolian spots are generally harmless, they can be mistaken as bruises related to child abuse. To guard against any such accusations, take pictures of your baby’s spots early on, and also ask your healthcare provider to include details in your child’s records. It’s also wise to be proactive in educating others about Mongolian spots.