BURGIE IRELAND registered nurse and midwife
MY BABY WAS BORN WITH A RED MARK ON THE BACK OF HER HEAD. MANY PEOPLE HAVE TOLD ME IT WILL KILL HER, OTHERS SAY IT HAS SOMETHING TO DO WITH THE FONTANELLE. WHAT IS THE MARK AND HOW DO I MAKE IT GO AWAY?
The type of mark you describe called a strawberry birthmark, and is absolutely harmless. It does not have anything to do with the fontanelle and there’s nothing you can do to make it go away – given time, it will fade on its own.
In medical terms the strawberry birthmark is called a capillary haemangioma because it’s made up of blood vessels. It will gradually fade and disappear. Some only take a year or two, but bigger birthmarks can take up to six years and very occasionally it may take ten years if the mark is large. The birthmark looks like a strawberry because the skin is raised and bright red. Even though these birthmarks can look really fierce, they’re not contagious, and they won’t spread or get bigger once they’re established.
Strawberry birthmarks are usually evident soon after birth and grow very slowly during the first few months. They’re not caused by birth trauma (forceps) or anything you did during your pregnancy. Although strawberry birthmarks can appear anywhere on the body, they’re usually found on the head, back or chest. Your doctor or paediatrician will diagnose the strawberry birthmark and monitor it. Understandably, smaller birthmarks may fade quicker than bigger ones. A bigger strawberry birthmark that has taken longer to fade may leave a small brown mark on the skin.
Trust your healthcare professional for advice and treatment, and don’t take your baby to a healer or herbalist to “remove the evil” that has caused the birthmark – there’s nothing evil about it. Traditional healing ceremonies are only harmless when no concoctions are used or applied to the birthmark. On the rare occasion when the birthmark is on the baby’s eyelids, nose or mouth, cortisone is prescribed to shrink it.