A purplish or pink patch of skin may be a port wine stain that can be treated by a dermatologist. At Miami Dermatology and Laser Institute, board-certified dermatologist, Jill Waibel, MD, FAAD, treats port wine birthmarks for men and women living all over the world.
What is a Port Wine Birthmark?
A port wine birthmark (PWB) is a type of birthmark that has a purplish or pink color that are present at birth and do not resolve. These birthmarks can also be part of syndromes, and when present a thorough history and physical with appropriate testing should be initiated. The more extensive the cutaneous involvement of the birthmark, the more likely the patient may have underlying ophthalmologic, neurologic or systemic abnormalities. Port wine birthmarks can happen in both males and females equally and are commonly found in the head and neck region. In two thirds of patients with PWB, the soft tissue of the skin can have elevated areas, and the flat pink-red patches can evolve into purple plaques or nodules called ‘blebs’.
What Causes a Port Wine Birthmark?
Naevus flammeus is the clinical term for a port wine birthmark and some common causes are:
- Abnormalities in the blood vessels that cause them to be enlarged
- Issues with the nerves that control blood flow through the vessels
How is a Port Wine Birthmark Treated?
Port wine birthmarks are most commonly treated with laser therapies. In office, there is a device called Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) that can assist in determining the diameter and depth of the blood vessels to better treat the lesion using laser therapy. It is crucial to know the earlier the treatment, the better the outcome.