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Quick reference medical handouts used by Pediatric offices


Birthmark Basics: Cafe Au Lait Spots


One in ten babies is born with – or develops – skin blemishes. Here are the essential facts on the six most common kinds and the newest ways to treat them.

Cafe-au-lait Spot

What it is:

A beige or brown flat, oval patch caused by increased pigment in the skin’s surface layer, sometimes called hyperpigmentation. The spots are typically the color of coffee with milk in children with light complexions, and they are usually the color of black coffee in children with darker skin. Up to 20% of the population has a cafe-au-lait spot. It can be present at birth or appear within a week or so afterwards.


When to worry

Six or more spots that are larger than a half inch should be evaluated. That could be a sign of von Recklinghausen’s Disease, This neurological genetic disorder is characterized by soft, fleshy skin growths of abnormal nerve tissue that can put pressure on nerves, impairing normal functioning.


Treatment:

For facial cafe-au-lait spots, laser therapy is an option. Results vary. “Some may be removed permanently. Some may darken. Some may only be removed temporarily, Cafe-au-lait spots elsewhere on the body usually aren’t treated.

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adapted from an article that appeared in the newsletter Pediatrics for Parents, written by Sandra Gordon and posted on kidsgrowth.com 07-20-07

 

As a reminder, this information should not be relied on as medical advice and is not intended to replace the advice of your child’s pediatrician. Please read our full disclaimer.

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