Port wine stains occur when blood vessels under the skin form abnormally. It is thought that the nerves controlling the vessels do not function correctly, causing the blood vessels to remain dilated.
These stains are usually present from birth, and early treatment is advisable for various reasons:
• Port wine stains can cause some distress, particularly if they are large or visible. They most often appear on the face, and this can affect a child’s confidence in the early years.
• Port wine stain removal tends to be more effective the earlier it is undertaken. As the years go by, the blood supply to the area can become less effective, and the skin can become lumpy and raised.
• Young children can be treated, from as early as two months of age. Diagnosis usually happens early, as the stains are so distinctive and noticeable, and doctors will advise on the best course of treatment. Babies may require a general anaesthetic during the treatment, as it can cause a mild stinging sensation.
Port wine stains do not tend to fade on their own, indeed, they can look worse as the years go by.