Stork bites are common birthmarks. They are salmon colored patches that occur due to stretching or dilation of blood vessels underneath the skin. Here is more on meaning, causes and removal of stork marks, salmon patches or angel kisses.
What Is a Stork Bite Birthmark
Definition: This is a pink, flat shaped birthmark that appears on nose, eyelids, forehead, scalp, nose, upper lip temporarily. It is more permanent at the nape of the neck. It results from nesting of dilated blood capillaries resulting in a red or pink patch that is harmless.
How long does it for stork bites to fade away? It is also referred to as nevus simplex or salmon patch and it usually fades away within the first two years. However, it may extend to adulthood depending on the location on the body. When it appears on the upper face it is referred to as ‘angel kiss’ and when on the neck it is known as ‘stork bites or salmon patch’.
It may also appear in small patches on the arms legs and the back area but the skin doesn’t appear bumpy.
Causes of Stork Bites
Many tales have been used to explain to young children the conception process. From the story of the bird and bees, there is a story of a stork that ‘delivers’ young babies to families. It carries by the neck resulting in the formation of marks along the neck. However, there are scientific reasons for the occurrence of stork bites.
In babies, it is caused by:
In fetus growth, there is a development of extra blood vessels in umbilical cord which help to provide necessary nutrients and oxygen to the fetus through the placenta.
At birth, the umbilical cord is cut off which means that the foramen ovale and ductus arteriosus previously responsible for blood and nutrient circulation close down. This means that the fetus is able to depend on its own system for survival including the now functional lungs. However, in the process, some fragments including capillaries and hemoglobin can remain in the blood. Due to their fragmentation, they may not be fully developed.
The stretching, immaturity, and dilation of these capillaries or tiny blood vessels usually located immediately under the skin cause the pink colored stork bites.
Also when there are remnants of umbilical arteries responsible for the transportation of wastes and carbon dioxide found in deoxygenated fetal blood. This causes stork bites (Jain, 2017).
They cause the constriction of the fetus blood vessels. Once the baby is born, the mark is visible but fades after a few weeks.
Reaction to medicines
Such as vasodilators and hypertension medicine used by pregnant women. Most of the medicines are absorbed by the fetus and may cause enlarged small blood vessels. Upon birth, the already formed capillaries may still be dilated causing stork bites.
A family history of stork bites is usually passed down to the baby. It is also prominent in fair skinned especially Caucasians. This is because they lack the enzymes responsible for protection from remnants which flow back to the fetal circulation. More so they lack enough melanin which greatly assists in hiding the spots and marks.
High temperatures caused by hot weather, crying, anger or excitement may trigger the vasodilation of blood vessels. This is because there is an increase in blood flow to the area and the skin becomes very sensitive and itchy especially around the eyelid. This will cause the occurrence of stork bites.
Which may include high levels of calcium channel blockers. When absorbed by the fetus it can prevent the entry of calcium into the blood vessels causing their dilation. The lack of proper diet may also cause underdevelopment of the fetus. This may result in the birth of an underweight baby who has immature blood vessels. This results in stork bites (Radhakrishnan, 2011).
Stork Bites in Adults
They are permanent in nature this is mainly due to genetics and environmental factors. For example, adults are prone to hypertension which causes vasodilation. The consumption of certain foods and genes can prolong the presence of stork bites.
Treatment or Stork Bite Removal
Stork bites are benign and congenital so usually, disappear from two years of age. They slowly change color blending with skin color and often disappear with pressure.
Homemade treatment. Using a lukewarm cotton cloth and applying it to the area to reduce the vasodilation. The application of pressure at least four times a day helps to reduce the stork bites.
However, the stork bites on the neck extend to adulthood and may require more permanent remedies which include:
Where the light used converts to heat energy that destroys the abnormal blood vessels especially on the neck skin (Vorvick, 2015). This is because it has large capillaries which can contain a series of abnormalities including immature vessels. The process heals after two weeks.
Pulsed dye laser which uses a yellow light beam and dye. The dye is mixed with a solvent to make it soluble. It is absorbed by the vessels and assists by shutting off the blood vessels so that they don’t vasodilate.
Excess hemoglobin in the blood causes the stork bites to appear darker. The use of the laser and colored dye heats up the chromophore, in this case, the oxyhemoglobin.This eliminates excess hemoglobin reducing the pinkish color.
V-beam Perfecta laser using a micro-pulse technology which heat blood vessels thus constricting them. It also heals broken capillaries thus fading them for the skin. This is more specific in nature especially in areas around the eye.
Though a non-invasive procedure special precautions should be taken especially in use on kids. It may cause bleeding, pain, and be scarring in children
It acts as beta blockers which help to reduce the sudden vasodilation of blood vessels which cause stork bites. This includes Atenolol, Nadolol, and propranolol.This treatment may take longer and may cause growth retardation due to slow heartbeat and fatigue.
Involves the use of a carbon dioxide or liquid nitrogen injection which numbs the capillaries constricting their vasodilation. The capillaries freeze and eventually die due to dehydration, busting or loss of blood. They are slowly absorbed into the skin allowing for the creation of new skin reduces stork bite appearance.
Used in extreme cases. It involves the use of a needle that produces electrical current. The current repairs any abnormality of the blood vessels including destroying extra vessels that may become highly dilated. It also stimulates the growth of the immature capillaries thus preventing sudden vasodilation.
Involves the use of steroids which cause a vasoconstriction of the blood vessels preventing stork bites. They also stimulate the even maturity of capillaries and stop excess growth thus preventing sudden vessel dilation.
Stork Bite Vs Port Wine Stain
Port wine stains are large, bumpy and well defined while stork bites are usually small with undefined borders.
The location of the abnormally may not have an adverse effect on the child.Unlike port wine stains that can cause economic and psychological challenges especially when on neck and face. Stork bites are usually non-permanent in nature and have no effect on skin function.
More about birthmarks; Mongolian Spots
Illuminati, C. (2015). The new dad dictionary: Everything he really needs to know – from A to Z.
Radhakrishnan, B. (2011, June 27). Are birthmarks genetic? retrieved from http://www.brighthub.com/science/genetics/articles/51026.aspx
Vorvick, L. (2015, April 11). Stork bite. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001388.htm
Jain, P. (2017, February 6). What are stork bites: 15 things you need to know.