You take a look at your newborn and stare into those tiny eyes. You analyze every inch of their beautiful face and notice a little pink or red blotch right where their nose meets their forehead (Ugh!) or on the nape of their neck. (Oh no!) This common birthmark is lovingly called a stork bite, and thankfully, it usually fades with time. (But do be prepared for baby acne to make its entrance soon 😁.)
Read on to learn more about stork bites, a common baby birthmark.
What Is A Stork Bite?
A stork bite, also known as a salmon patch or angel kisses, is a light pink- to red-colored flat birthmark that appears naturally in around 30 percent of newborns. Known medically as nevus simplex, these blemishes are caused due to irregular blood vessels underneath the skin. In some cases, when a child cries or when temperature changes, the stork bite can become more prominent.
Where Is A Stork Bite Found?
Stork bite birthmarks are found from the neck up on the body. The most common places stork bites show up are on the:
- upper lip
- back of the neck
What Causes a Stork Bite Birthmark?
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, these harmless birthmarks are usually caused by dilated and stretched capillaries, or blood vessels, under the skin.
There is not specific testing that needs to be completed to identify the birthmark. A physician can determine whether your child has stork bite just by looking at it.
How Is a Stork Bite Different from Other Birthmarks?
Stork bites are generally visible at birth or very soon after, and will usually fade and disappear over time. My daughter Paloma was born with a honking stork bite at the nape of her neck (just like me) and it has faded significantly already. This is in contrast to other types of birthmarks, which tend to appear later in infancy or childhood and have a greater chance of becoming permanent.
There are many similarities and differences between stork bites and other birthmarks:
- Strawberry Birthmark: Also known as a hemangioma, these birthmarks may not be present immediately at birth, but could develop shortly thereafter. They are caused by a cluster of blood vessels close to the surface of the skin, resulting in a red, bumpy texture similar to the skin of a strawberry. They can appear infants and children. Typically, a strawberry hemangioma will fade by the time a child reaches age 10. A biopsy, CT scan, or MRI may be required to confirm if the marking is a strawberry birthmark that is deeper under the skin. Occasionally a strawberry birthmark becomes troublesome if it is on an eyelid or if it starts to bleed and becomes an open sore. If your child has any of these complications, contact your physician right away.
- Port-Wine Stain Birthmark: While a vascular birthmark like a stork bite, a port-wine stain birthmark is known for its dark red or purple appearance and appears at birth. Unlike a stork bite, it does not fade with time and can even darken or gain texture. Although not rare, they appear far less than most other forms of birthmarks. They can occur in any part of the body, but are common around the face, especially near the eyelid area. Port-Wine birthmarks near the eye sometimes require medical attention.
- Moles: Markings in the form of brown or black moles are known as congenital melanocytic nevi, another common blemish found on about 1% of infants. These can occur in any area of the body, including the head or face. The shade of the mole generally appears darker in relation to the babies’ skin tone. In some instances, the marking may change appearance later in the child’s life during puberty, becoming more prominent or hairy.
How Long Does It Take a Stork Bite to Fade?
It is hard to determine whether a stork bite will fade or be permanent. Time is a major factor with determining the outcome.
Usually the stork bite will fade and disappear within the first years of life, typically 18 months.
More than 95 percent of stork bite birthmarks lighten and fade away completely, according to Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Stork bites are that are located around the neck could remain for a longer period or may become permanent. But, since they’re covered by hair, most people forget they even have a stork bite as time goes on.
Should I Be Concerned About a Stork Bite?
The most important question while learning about a stork bite is: Should you be concerned? The good news is that you have nothing to be worried about. These birthmarks tend to be painless and not life threatening.
With that in mind you should still seek medical attention and rule out any other possible medical issues. These concerns can be addressed during your regular infant visits to your pediatrician. If your stork bite has not gone away with 18 months many people tend to look into their options for removal.
Medical Treatment of a Stork Bite
For those who don’t want to wait for the stork bite to fade, you can try to eliminate it through laser removal. It is a non-evasive procedure and can be done in an outpatient setting from you doctor’s office. The heal time is also minimal. Sometimes people experience some light bruising or tenderness.
While the risk factors for laser removal are minimal, there are some potential cautions to keep in mind. Sometimes laser removal is not the best option. In some cases, it can cause cosmetic complications like, the pigmentation on the skin that can either darken or lighten. (Source)
Is There Any Natural Treatment for a Stork Bite?
While laser removal is deemed non-invasive, due to potential complications, many would prefer an all-natural approach rather than taking cosmetic risks that laser removal can potentially have.
Some natural remedies that may lessen the appearance of a birthmark include:
- Olive Oil: Often used in restoring damaged skin cells, olive oil is also a natural moisturizer. As such, it can potentially smooth uneven surfaces and lighten the birthmark. To try it, dip a cotton ball in olive oil, then apply the birthmark and rub in a circular motion for five minutes. Rinse with warm water. You will need to repeat this process four times a day for several weeks.
- Lemon Juice: Lemon juice acts as a natural bleaching agent and can lighten blemishes and dark skin. Treating a birthmark with lemon juice is similar to that of olive oil. Dip a cotton ball in lemon juice and apply it onto the birthmark by rubbing in a circular motion for a few minutes. Let the area air dry completely before rinsing it with warm water. You will need to do this three times a day for several weeks.
- Vitamin A: The main ingredient in many prescription anti-aging and acne treatments, Vitamin A stimulates cell division and production of collagen. Apply cream to the birthmark two to three times a day.
- Vitamin E: With anti-oxidizing properties that can minimize the appearance of damaged skin, Vitamin E can help minimize the appearance of the birthmark and help make it appear lighter. Apply the oil to the birthmark two to three times a day.
- Cold compress: A cold compress is useful for helping maintain moisture in the skin, and as such, may provide a way of lightening the pigment of a birth mark. Wrap an ice pack in a clean cloth or towel to protect your baby’s skin from damage from the extreme cold. The same rule applies if you are using it to treat yourself. If you remember from the beginning of this post, the stork bite can appear when upset or overheated, so it would make sense that the cold compress could help diminish its appearance. Apply the cold compress for about 15 to 20 minutes. Do not exceed 20 minutes. Feel free to try this every hour.
How to Handle Stork Bite Comments
Unfortunately, everyone has to have some kind of commentary when it comes to observing parenting or anything out of the ordinary with a child.
Here Are Some Ways to Deal with People Commenting on Your Child’s Stork Bite:
- The main question people ask is: “What is that?”
Feel free to enlighten them with all the information you have learned in this post. As the adage goes, knowledge is power.
- A worry point of some parents might be: “Will my child catch a stork bite?”
As much as you would probably love to tell them it is contagious so they will leave you alone, the truth is that there is no worry of stork bites being infectious.
- Blow them away with some culture!
Did you know that in certain parts of the world stork bites and angel kisses are considered a blessing? Consider the name angel kiss — many deem that the child “kissed” is blessed and protected by angels.
You should always consult with your child’s physician to ensure that the birthmark is identified properly as a stork bite, and if so, be able to relax knowing that it’s nothing to worry about.
How about you? We would love to hear about your Stork Bite experiences!
Did your baby have a stork bite? If so, what did it look like? When did it fade away?