Café au lait or Mongolian spot?

Posted on 21 Sep, 2011

Café au lait spots and Mongolian spots are both different types of pigmented birthmarks. Pigmented birthmarks are common, and usually appear before we are even born. Most are harmless and don’t need treatment unless they cause cosmetic problems; some fade away on their own and some don’t. Here’s an overview of the different types, and which ones may require birthmark removal treatment:

• Mongolian spots resemble bruises, as they are blue in colour. They usually appear on the buttocks or lower back and tend to disappear between the ages of three and five, although some will linger on until puberty before fading away.

• Café au lait spots are the colour of milky coffee and are usually oval in shape. They are benign but can cause problems for people if they are in noticeable places. Advanced Intense Pulsed Light is effective at removing this type of birthmark.

• Pigmented nevi are also known as moles. They can be isolated or in clusters and tend to darken with age, through exposure to sunlight.

• Congenital nevi are moles present at birth that can be much larger than pigmented nevi. They need to be monitored and in case of changes or itching must be seen by a doctor.