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Mongolian Birthmark Causes, Signs, in Adults, Removal and Treatment

What is a Mongolian birthmark?  Why do some babies have this Mongolian birthmark characterized by gray-blue pigmentation on their backs, buttocks, face or legs? What is the meaning of the adult onset, unilateral, progressive, gray-blue pigmentation on their back? Are these pigmentation related to any medical condition?

Now to attain satisfying answer to these questions, we are going to examine what is Mongolian birthmark, causes, signs and symptoms, who is vulnerable to this type of birthmark, which part of the body can these pigments be found.

What is Mongolian birthmark?

Mongolian birthmark, Mongolian spot, or congenital dermal melanocytosis are flat, blue or gray-blue markings that usually found on the lower back, bottoms or on the face of infants at birth or soon afterwards. They can occasionally be noticed on the legs or shoulders of the newborn. Mongolian birthmarks sometimes look similar to bruises, which make them possibly connected to child abuse in some circumstances.

mongolian birthmark spot on babies face
mongolian birthmark spot on babies face

Mongolian birthmarks usually occur as multiple spots or large patches. They have wavy borders and irregular shape.

In most cases, this Mongolian pigmentations or lesions usually disappear within 1-4 years of birth but widespread, extrasacral and dark colored Mongolian spot sometimes persist into adulthood.

mongolian spot on the back of a child
mongolian spot on the back of a child
mongolian spot on a baby butocks
mongolian spot on a baby butocks

Mongolian birthmark was first described and named after Mongolians by a German anthropologist, Erwin Balz who was based in Japan in 1883.

It is very important to understand that both female and male newborns are equally vulnerable to Mongolian spot.

Causes of Mongolian spots

This kind of birthmark is caused by collection of pigment-producing cells (melanocytes) that are found in deeper layer in the skin. So the bluish (gray-blue, dark blue) color develops when the dermal melanocyte fail to move to the top layer of the skin and persist there instead of disappearing.

Usually, these cells should disappear by the 20th week of pregnancy. Doctors have not yet found the reason behind the failure of these cells to disappear, but this condition is not linked to anything that a mother do or don’t do during pregnancy.

Some cases have been reported in medical journals where infants with wide spread Mongolian sports also experience some metabolic disorders. This is a very rare observation.

Signs and diagnosis of Mongolian birthmark

The reasonably characteristic in appearance of Mongolian spots renders them no need to have special test or diagnosis. However, sometimes due to their color and location, they can be erroneously be confused with bruises.

The difference between the two is that, bruises usually change their color and shape over short periods while on the other side, Mongolian spots take several years to diminish.

Secondly, Mongolian spots are not painful to the touch and do not need any exceptional care unlike bruises.

Here are the summarized characteristics of Mongolian blue spots:

  • There are usually blue or blue –gray spots on the back, bottoms, base of spine, shoulders, legs or face
  • The normally take the texture of the skin
  • They are flat with irregular shape and wavy borders
  • The usually range between 2 to 10 centimeter in diameter
  • They don’t cause any pain
  • Take many years to fade

Who is vulnerable to getting Mongolian spots?

Mongolian spots are very widespread in children of African, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean or Asian background. Some researchers have revealed that almost three-quarter of infants from these backgrounds are born with Mongolian birthmark.

Due to this large numbers of Mongolian infants, there have been questions if this condition is inherited but there is no clear clue yet.

On the other hand, Mongolian spots are rare in children with white European background.

Again, as we have said before, these spots can occur in both boys and girls. However, they are somewhat more common in boys than in girls. The cause of this observation is not yet known.

Regardless of the name, Mongolian spots have no known anthropologic implication, except for being more conventional in darker-skinned infants.

Mongolian spot in adults

These are types of Mongolian spots that persist right from birth to adulthood. The reason why Mongolian spots may persist to adulthood is not clearly known. If it happens in adults, the condition may make some people become very shy or self-conscious especially when the spots are located in the face or somewhere where it is visible. In fact, up to around the year 1993, this was an issue of concern to Asian men.

Mongolian birthmark removal and Treatment

Can Mongolian spots be removed? Can these spots be treated? This section is going to discuss means through which you can get rid of those Mongolian spots or birthmarks.

Dermal melanocytosis is a benign, which do not need any therapy or treatment. This harmless condition will resolve on its own. Usually the Mongolian spots impulsively disappears by the time a child will reach 4 years old and they do not pose don’t pose any potential health risk However, there rare cases where you will find large and numerous spots that persists after a four year. This may be connected with rare genetic disorders.

As you wait for Mongolian spots to disappear, you can use cosmetic camouflage to cover them. For those who do not like these spots, laser birthmark removal may be employed to remove the pigments as we are going to see. It should be noted that use of some laser mechanism could further lead to some skin diseases.

Summary

Generally, Mongolian spot is a kind of pigmented birthmarks that occurs at birth. This condition should be given time to resolve by itself for a period 5 years. If it doesn’t disappear within the mentioned period, then the pigment is likely to be permanent therefore, when one wishes to apply birthmark removal by laser, then he/she should consult his/her medical service provider.

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Reference List
  1. What are Mongolian Spots: http://www.drgreene.com/qa-articles/what-are-mongolian-spots/
  2. Mongolian blue spots: http://www.gosh.nhs.uk/medical-information-0/search-medical-conditions/mongolian-blue-spots
  3. Mongolian Blue Spots: http://www.healthline.com/health/mongolian-blue-spots
  4. Mongolian blue spot: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001472.htm
  5. Mongolian Spot (Blue-Gray Spot): http://www.skinsight.com/infant/blue-GraySpotMongolianSpot.htm
  6. Mongolian spots: http://www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/baby-care/baby-skin-care/mongolian-spots.aspx
  7. Congenital Dermal Melanocytosis (Mongolian spot): http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1068732-overview
  8. Lumbosacral dermal Melanocytosis: http://www.dermnetnz.org/topics/lumbosacral-dermal-melanocytosis
  9. Mongolian spots: How are they important: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3856299/
  10. Birthmarks: http://www.totaldermatology.com/medical-services/birthmarks/
  11. Mongolian Birthmark/spot on Babies, Meaning, Pictures, Myths, Removal and Treatment: http://durablehealth.net/birthmarks/mongolian-birthmark-spot-babies-pictures-myths-removal-treatment/

About Vladmir Kucherov

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