Most birthmarks are a benign marking on the skin that appears either before or shortly after birth. They can be divided into two types of birthmark: the vascular birthmark and the pigmented birthmark.

Vascular birthmarks are red or purple in colour and include macular stains, stork bites, strawberry marks and port wine stains. They appear when an excessive and abnormal amount of blood vessels form under the surface of the skin. They are not thought to be hereditary and do not usually cause any health problems, although some birthmarks can cause obstructions beneath the surface of the skin.

The other type of birthmark is the pigmented birthmark. These include moles, Mongolian spots and café au lait spots. These are characterised by their darker brown appearance, and again, they do not usually pose any kind of threat to health. They appear when an excess of pigmentation is produced in a small area of skin, with the higher concentration of pigment creating the darker colouring.

Birthmarks can appear anywhere on the body, and can cause problems if they appear on the face. Birthmark removal treatment can help to fade the appearance of birthmarks, making them easier to live with.