Birthmarks may come in several shapes and forms. They're called birthmarks because they are present at birth, or may develop shortly thereafter. There are two types of birth marks: pigmented and vascular. A pigmented birthmark may appear in various colors such as black, brown, tan or bluish gray. The cause of these birthmarks is unknown and most are not inherited from parents. Unfortunately, because what causes birthmarks is not fully understood, there is no known way of preventing them either. Moles may be removed surgically, while cafe-au-lait spots, which are light tan or brown marks that usually appear oval, may be treated using a laser. They may return, however. Many pigmented birthmarks are left alone and go untreated, although some turn to cosmetics to cover birthmarks that are conspicuously located.

Vascular birthmarks are made up of various blood vessels in the skin. They may appear as flat or raised on the skin, and they may be pink, red or a bluish color. Vascular birthmarks are not inherited and like pigmented birthmarks their cause is unknown. The treatment for vascular birthmarks varies depending on the type exhibited. Corticosteroid medications and lasers may be used to treat some types of vascular birthmarks, while others choose to use cosmetics to cover up a conspicuous birthmark. It is important to consult a medical professional before choosing any treatment, as many will recommend watching the birthmark to see if it grows, goes away or stays roughly the way it is before advising on treatment.

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