New moms spend lots of time memorizing every freckle and dimple on their newborn baby, so it can be a bit disconcerting if you notice an unexpected pink or red spot on your baby’s skin in the days or weeks following their birth. If a pink discoloration on your baby’s eyelids, forehead, nose, or neck (front or back) has sent you down a panicked, late-night internet search spiral, then take a breath. That spot is most likely a stork bite, and it’s nothing to worry about it.
As you can probably guess, stork bites have nothing to do with actual storks, and everything to do with old wives’ tales. A stork bite is actually a type of birthmark, and it got its cutesy name due to its common occurrence on the back of babies’ necks — which would be where a stork might nip your newborn when it was dropping off a bundle of joy on your doorstep (if only having a baby was that easy, right?). The Cleveland Clinic reports 30 to 50 percent of newborn babies either have a stork bite at birth or develop one within the first few days after delivery, making it one of the most common types of birthmarks out there.
What is a stork bite and what does it look like?
Stork bites are easy to spot: The marks are flat and pink, and they tend to grow darker when your baby cries or becomes upset. The birthmark is a result of the blood vessels beneath the baby’s skin becoming stretched or dilated. What it’s not a result of is any sort of birth trauma or anything that occurred during pregnancy — so you definitely shouldn’t blame yourself.
It’s also important to remember that in most cases, a stork bite will fade or disappear completely over time. If your baby’s birthmark is on the back of their neck, it’s more likely to be permanent, but as they get older their hair will likely shield the mark from view anyway.
What’s the difference between a stork bite, a port-wine stain, and hemangioma?
There are a number of names for a stork bite: the technical term is nevus simplex, which sounds scary, but it just means your baby’s small blood vessels are larger than normal resulting in a birthmark. A stork bite may also be called a salmon patch or angel’s kiss. However, a stork bite is not the same as a port-wine stain.
A port-wine stain is a different type of birthmark, and it’s more likely to be permanent. While stork bites are flat and pink, port-wine stains can be pink, red, or purple in color, and are most commonly found on a baby’s head or neck, according to John Hopkins Medicine. If you gently press on a port-wine stain, you’ll notice it doesn’t change color, and it can actually darken as a child gets older.
Meanwhile, hemangioma (also known as strawberry hemangiomas) are bright red and raised or has a bumpy feeling to the touch. They can occur shortly after your baby is born, and grow in size over the course of several months. But like stork bites, they tend to disappear over time, and most are gone entirely by the time a child turns nine.
Ultimately, anytime your baby develops a new spot or mark on their skin, it’s worth having your pediatrician take a look to ease your mind. While birthmarks are common, and most fade or disappear as children grow up, in some cases a blemish can be a sign of an underlying problem. Your pediatrician will be able to confirm what type of birthmark your baby has, and let you know if it’s something you should keep an eye on.
Are angel kisses freckles?
Freckles are not angel kisses. They are actually spots of melanin on your face that get darker and appear when exposed to the sunlight. This is why they are more prominent in the summer and tend to fade during the winter. Freckles also come in handy because they help protect your skin from the sun. And unlike an angel kiss, babies aren’t born with freckles. They usually appear after being in the sun, unlike angel kisses, which are visible from the time of birth.
How long does it take for stork bites to go away?
Every child is different, but generally, stork bites disappear within the first year of a baby’s life. After that, you may notice the mark when your little one throws a temper tantrum, but for the most part, this type of birthmark doesn’t stay with a child throughout their entire life, unless it occurs on the back of the neck. Even then, it’s unlikely to be super noticeable or the sort of thing that will draw the attention of others. If a stork bite doesn’t fade within a year, you should mention it to your pediatrician, because it’s likely your baby has a different type of birthmark entirely.
The most important thing to remember about stork bites is they’re harmless and don’t require any sort of special treatment. Your baby’s stork bite is just another part of their developmental journey, and it’s one that will take care of itself over time.
How to Get Rid Of a Stork Bite
Stork bites usually go away on their own, but sometimes they can stick around for a long time and even years. So if your child’s stork bite doesn’t seem like it’s going away any time soon, try laser treatment. This can make the mark smaller or match the color of the child’s skin. The laser attacks the blood vessel in the mark. It’s usually a painless process and takes more than one treatment to remove the stork bite completely. Keep in mind laser treatment should only be considered when a child is much older.
Are stork bites painful?
Stork bites don’t actually feel like bites. They may look painful, but they don’t feel like anything. Stork bites aren’t physically uncomfortable or sensitive to touch; they are just a discolored part of the body. Like birthmarks, they aren’t painful or itchy. Sometimes when an infant cries or becomes too hot, the mark may change color, but it still isn’t painful or irritating to the child.