Birthmark in Hair and Scalp: Types, Causes, and Treatment

To some, birthmarks can be embarrassing, an impediment to beauty, or a source of anxiety. To others, it is a symbol of family ties and comes to signify their identity. Overall, there is a mixed reception concerning birthmarks in that they can either be embraced or identified as a flaw that has to go. There are different types of birthmarks that can occur in the hair.

Poliosis hair/grey or white hair birthmark

Poliosis is an inherited trait in which a person is born with or develops a white or grey hair patch. Here, some hair follicles lack melanin or have a reduced amount of melanin leading to the grey or white color. The lack of melanin is as a result of genetic mutations leading to impaired hair follicles. You’ve probably seen people with a white forelock consisting of a diamond-shaped depigmentation.

For example, the popular American blues singer Bonnie Raitt. The streaks of hair can be covered with dye. However, there are instances where the condition is accompanied by other serious conditions, such as Waardenburg Syndrome Type 1, or auto-immune conditions such as sarcoidosis.

The grey or white hair birthmark alone cannot harm your health. However, if you are unsure that it is a birthmark, you can go for a medical exam to determine if it is the outcome of a certain condition. But be assured it is not a symbol of your craving for ricotta cheese-as the Italians say.

Aside from recurrently dyeing the non-pigmented hair, you can go for an epidermal grafting on the affected region.

Moles on the hair scalp

A dark-pigmented region on the scalp can be an indication of a mole or nevus. There are people born with this rare condition (about 1 in every 100 newborns). They are not a sign of an injury in a past life.

Rather, they are the outcome of the overproduction of pigments by the cells in that region. The mole can either be raised or flat, with no hair, or have a small number of hairs. The mole can be of varying color-from black, to brown, to red, or pink. Also, some moles can have a kind of light brown appearance (Cafe-au-lait) or grey-blue.

A bulging mole can be annoying compared to flat moles due to the inconvenience they cause. You can attempt to remove it using surgical options. However, it is advisable not to try to remove the mole as it may open a Pandora’s Box of problems for you.

If you were born with a red mole, then the reddish color can be due to the high number of blood vessels surrounding that region. Overall, moles typically do not pose any danger to your health. Moreover, in some cultures, they are an indication of success (if you are a man), and if you are a woman, they are an indication that you are loving/passionate and generous.

Some people develop a mole after they were born-for instance during the adolescent stage. Here, it is important to consult a dermatologist as some moles can be an indication of a serious condition such as Melanoma. It can also be due to sun exposure, or harsh chemicals on the scalp. There are 5-signs presented by the American Academy Association that can help you decide if the mole needs to be checked.

A nevus birthmark in the hair

A nevus is somewhat different from a mole. This relatively common type of birthmark involves an area where the outer skin layer, as well as other skin components such as the hair follicle, connective tissue, sebaceous glands, and apocrine glands, have mutated, forming a skin patch that is relatively different from the remaining area. It usually looks like a birthmark with no hair growing out of it.

The term, “nevus” is derived from Latin meaning “birthmark”. There are different types of nevus. For instance, there is the congenital nevus. This is caused by a proliferation of melanocytes in the outer layer of the skin (the epidermis), or both the epidermis and the dermis.

Sometimes it can involve other areas of the body such as the bone and the nerves. The congenital nevus/pigmented/melanocytic appears as a pigmented region on the hair scalp. In most instances, there is hair growing out of them. Every congenital nevus is unique. It can be brown, black or reddish.

There are people who are born with an epidermal nevus on the scalp. This type appears slightly round, ovoid, or slightly linear at infancy. However, during puberty, the birthmark becomes verrucous and orange-brown in color.

This nevus may be due to genetic mutations during early embryonic development. Also, the lesion can be due to an overgrowth of keratinocytes. Similarly, the overgrowth of the epidermis and other skin components can lead to the following types of birthmarks:

  • Sebaceous naevus (nevus in American English).
  • Sweat gland naevus
  • Comedone naevus
  • Becker naevus

The Treatment of a nevus usually entails surgical excision, reconstruction with skin grafting, or free tissue transfer. It can be done as early as six months after a child is born. However, if you are already an adult then you can consider surgical options or laser surgery. It is important to note that lasers have been used to treat this birthmark with varying success.

Blood Vessel (hemangiomas) on head

This is a very common type of birthmark that occurs in more than three million children in the U.S. It usually looks like a cherry shaped birthmark or can appear resembling a strawberry. In most instances, it is not present at birth but develops later on-probably within six weeks after birth.

Aside from the scalp, they can appear anywhere on the skin. For instance, on the face, neck, or back. Generally, this it starts as a small bump that grows and changes in time. There are three types of this condition:

  • Superficial hemangiomas
  • Deep hemangiomas
  • Mixed hemangiomas

The cause of this birthmark is unknown. While most instances are usually harmless, according to the vascular birthmark institute, 12% of the cases of hemangiomas are an indicator of more serious issues. There is no clear definition of the size of its size. It can be a 1-centimeter diameter lesion or as wide as 5-6 cm.

Vascular and other types

There are vascular birthmarks. These form due to vascular malformations that in turn lead to a form of a skin lesion. The size and color of this birthmark vary from one person to another. For instance, the colors can vary from brown, blue, to varying shades of red and pink. They also vary in type i.e. vascular birthmarks that:

  • Resembling port-wine stains (the recent medical development of pulsed dye laser can be used to treat this birthmark in infants).
  • Those that resembling salmon patches
  • Venous birthmarks (tend to be confused with a hemangioma): They tend to grow and change in size.
  • Lymphatic birthmarks. Formed as a result of excess fluid build-up within the lymphatic vessels.
  • Arteriovenous malformation birthmark. Form from a tangle of blood vessels (arteries and veins). The treatment option depends on the size and location of the malformation.

What to do about them

Medical Science is yet to reveal the underlying cause behind the formation of birthmarks. Also, it is important to note that not all types are treatable. However, with proper diagnosis, some can be treated either through surgical interventions, or laser treatment. Laser therapy is ideal for birthmarks that are close to the skin for instance, in the treatment of hemangiomas.

Some birthmarks can develop into serious conditions. For example, melanocytic nevus may progress to malignant cancer. Therefore, it is important to consult a physician to determine whether the birthmark is a cause for concern.

Aside from surgical options and laser therapy. Some birthmarks are treated using corticosteroids. This can be the case for hemangioma. The corticosteroid is either injected or orally administered. Alternatively, if the corticosteroid fails to work, interferon alfa-12 can be used to stop the birthmark from expanding in size. Overall, treatment options can only be selected after a careful diagnosis of the birthmark.