Port-wine stain

Definition of Port-wine stain

A port-wine stain is a birthmark in which swollen blood vessels create a reddish-purplish discoloration of the skin.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Port-wine stains occur in about 3 out of 1,000 people.

Symptoms

Early port-wine stains are usually flat and pink in appearance. As the child gets older, the color may deepen to a dark red or purplish color. They occur most often on the face but can appear anywhere on the body.

Signs and tests

Your doctor can usually diagnose a port wine stain by looking at the skin.

Treatment

Many treatments have been tried for port-wine stains, including freezing, surgery, radiation, and tattooing.

Expectations (prognosis)

Stains on the face respond better to laser therapy than those on the arms, legs, or middle of the body. Older stains may be more difficult to treat.

Review

Jonathan Kantor, MD, North Florida Dermatology Associates, Jacksonville, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 4/15/2009

Port wine stain on a child
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