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Rady Children's Specialists

Capillary Malformation

Capillary malformation

Capillary malformation

Capillary malformations are common birthmarks found in infants. The most common of the capillary malformations is the nevus simplex, also known as the salmon patch. These vascular lesions are found in about one-third of all babies and presents as a pink-red, flat patch.

When found on the nape of the neck, these lesions are referred to as the “stork bite”; likewise, the lesions found on the upper eyelids in newborns is known as “angel kiss.” Other common locations for salmon patches include the mid-forehead, glabella, and the nose. Nevus simplex is usually not associated with any other findings. Moreover, nearly all of these lesions resolve over the first years of life, and therefore no treatment is necessary.

A port-wine stain is also a capillary malformation that presents with a pink-red, flat patch. Usually, these lesions are much larger than the nevus simplex, and they may become thicker, darker, and somewhat warty in appearance over years. The port-wine stain may be associated with various syndromes, and an evaluation by a pediatric dermatologist is recommended. Of the more common syndromes associated with port-wine stains are Sturge-Weber and Klippel-Trenaunay syndromes.

Sturge-Weber syndrome can be associated with glaucoma (which could lead to blindness) as well as seizures; Klippel-Trenaunay syndrome can lead to hypertrophy of the affected limb. Because of these reasons, early detection and treatment are important by specialists who are experts in the care of vascular malformations.