Vascular birthmarks are very common in children. These birthmarks are made of blood vessels in the skin and can occur anywhere on the body. They may be pink or red in color, blue or purplish, flat or raised. Since they are vascular, sometimes they will feel warm to touch and may change in color with changes in your child’s body temperature (like when your child is crying or in a warm bath). They are benign (not cancer) and most cause no harm. Many vascular birthmarks get better over time, some stay the same, and some get worse as a child gets older.
For many vascular birthmarks, the cause is unknown. Some vascular birthmarks are caused by changes in genes, but most of those genes affect only the skin where the birthmark is located, and are not inherited (they are not passed on from parent to child). There are many types of vascular birthmarks, most common but some rare, and sometimes there can be confusion about which type is which. It is thus best to have your child’s birthmark evaluated by your pediatrician, with referral to a pediatric dermatologist or other vascular birthmark specialist if needed. Google is a good resource for many things, but especially when it comes to vascular birthmarks, it is not very reliable!
Many vascular birthmarks do not need to be treated because they go away on their own and are harmless. Sometimes though, treatment may be offered or needed for your child for medical reasons or for cosmetic ones, especially if your child’s birthmark is in a more noticeable location like the face. There are many treatments for vascular birthmarks. Sometimes medications can be given by mouth (orally) or used on the skin (topically) to control the growth of a vascular birthmark. Sometimes lasers can be used to improve the color or texture. Occasionally, surgery or other treatments may be needed. Deciding which treatment is best for your child varies greatly depending on the type of vascular birthmark it is. That is why it is so important to make sure your child receives the correct diagnosis.
Lastly, it is also best for your child to be diagnosed as soon as possible after birth, and for your child to be referred to a specialist as soon as possible if your pediatrician decides a specialist is necessary. Timely diagnosis and referral is important because if your child needs treatment, many treatments for vascular birthmarks work best when they are started as early as possible in your child’s life.
Written by: Dr. Denise W. Metry
Dr. Denise Metry has a special interest in the diagnosis and treatment of children with vascular birthmarks, particularly infantile hemangiomas, port-wine birthmarks, and other rare vascular birthmarks of the skin. She is dedicated to providing compassionate care for her patients and their families.
She is a founding and active member of the Hemangioma Investigator Group, an international physician working group established in 2000 to promote hemangioma research and education. She is the physician leader for the Sturge-Weber syndrome Clinical Care Network at Texas Children's Hospital, and the dermatology leader for the Vascular Birthmarks Clinic at Texas Children’s. She has authored well over 100 manuscripts and book chapters dedicated to furthering our understanding of vascular birthmarks, and she mentors, teaches and lectures locally, nationally and internationally.
Dr. Metry has longstanding expertise in the treatment of vascular birthmarks with over 20 years of experience. She offers a variety of medical treatments for infantile hemangiomas, including topical timolol and oral propranolol. She also has extensive laser experience and offers pulsed-dye laser for port-wine birthmarks, as well as alternative lasers for other types of vascular birthmarks. Lastly, she is involved in pharmaceutical research looking at novel, topical targeted gene therapies for vascular birthmarks.
Dr. Metry hosted the first PHACE syndrome research and family meeting at Texas Children's in 2008, from which diagnostic criteria for the syndrome were established. She is dedicated to vascular birthmark patient advocacy efforts in Houston, and recently has extended her passion to international mission work, having traveled to underserved parts of Asia and Africa to provide vascular birthmark education.
Getting your child to comply with wet wraps can feel like can be a battle! Which if you think about it, is a little ironic, because by administering wet wraps you are helping your child’s suit of armor, their skin defends itself against the outside world! So let us talk strategy, determine some “weapons” for your arsenal, and let’s realign so that you and your child can go from enemies to allies.
When we feel overwhelmed or stressed, it can be tempting to tell ourselves (or each other!) Just relax, calm down! When we are stressed or freaking out, that is easier said than done. That’s why preparing a “coping tool kit,” a set of strategies for dealing with stress can be really powerful.
Do you freak out when you break out? I know I have! It is natural when we have a break-out to look in the mirror and think things like “These pimples are gross!” “I hate my skin!” “Things are never going to get any better!” Even though it is natural we think this way, it is harmful too.
Stop picking, popping, poking your pimples!
I know, it’s sort of like eating the whole bag of potato chips…we all know we aren’t supposed to do it, and yet, the temptation is SO STRONG! So…how do you stop?
Start with choosing an alternative activity!
We had so much fun at our first annual Heart + Sole Walk and Back To School Family festival! We want to thank all of our sponsors and everyone who came out to support our mission to make the world a more kind and understanding place for those with skin conditions.
As a Child Life Specialist working with teens and kids who have special skin, there is one question I get A LOT. “How do I talk to my teenager, when they tell me they don’t like how they look?” Parents are so worried that they will say the “wrong thing.” And truthfully, I have spent …
We had an amazing time celebrating the launch of our brand new SKIN DISCOVERY BOXES, a very special collaboration with our friends at CeraVe! CeraVe’s tireless pursuit of therapeutic skincare for all is truly more than skin deep and we couldn’t be more thankful. We celebrated in style thanks to our friends at Star Cinema …
A Children’s House for the Soul believes that it takes a village to support a child and family impacted by skin disease and birthmarks and that we are all better together.
Open House and Ribbon Cutting/Bring A Children’s House Home: On June 5th we began a very exciting new chapter of our A Children’s House story in the form of opening up our new beautiful space to serve children and teenagers with skin conditions and birthmarks and their families. This space includes a salon, a library & craft space, a teen room, and more! We also debuted our incredible new custom mural from up and coming local artist Eli Pallaert.
Our Family Trivia night was oh so much fun, and a huge success! We had so much fun getting to reconnect with all our friends and enjoy some laughs while snacking out on pizza and snowcones!
In honor of Vascular Birthmark Awareness Month, our childlife specialist Lindsay O’Sullivan had a great conversation with Jose about growing up with his special masterpiece skin!
In this interview, Ally shares about her experiences growing up with Ichthyosis. Ally shares how: Meeting other kids with special skin can help kids to feel less isolated and give them a very special sense of comradery and understanding. Parents don’t have to do everything perfectly to be the perfect parent for their child and …
What a wonderful time to relax, enjoy friendly company, and share their hearts on being a mama to a kiddo or teen with special skin. It was truly so special! These mamas were made a masterpiece!
We have some exciting updates about our Capital Campaign! Learn about our short and long term plans for our own space.
You Can’t Teach What Has No History “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of …
In honor of Ectodermal Dysplasia Awareness month in February, we sat down with two of our dearest friends Zach and his mama Susan! Zach is an avid golfer, an Aggie, and is affected by Ectodermal Dysplasia. Susan and Zach teach us about ED and the importance of finding community. They also had helpful tips and …
Join us for a fun and inspiring interview with this incredible lady Ana Maria! Ana Maria Triana is 15 years old and the author of How to Conquer Alopecia Universalis. Ana Maria gives heartfelt advice, shares wisdom beyond her years, and will leave you feeling full of compassion and confidence. A Children’s House for the …
In honor of the upcoming National Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB) Awareness week, we wanted to share this great piece from our friend, Rachael Wrobel about how her mama mothered her well, even despite the challenges of EB.
I am fortunate enough to be Mama to three little girls. Shortly after my eldest daughter’s first birthday (about 4 years ago) I noticed her hair was thinning. I was told by many it was just typical baby hair loss until it just couldn’t be described at “typical” any longer.
After the last several months of this pandemic, I think we are all well-versed in how important it is to wash our hands so that we don’t spread germs. But with all this hand washing and sanitizing, dry skin, eczema breakouts, and contact dermatitis have become even more troublesome. What can we do about it?