Port-Wine Stain (Nevus Flammeus)
What is it?
Port-wine stains (Nevus Flammeus) are pink or purple
birthmarks on the skin. They are first present at birth. Occasionally they can
be a sign of an underlying health condition but in most cases they’re harmless.
Besides from their appearance, Port-wine stains in general
don’t cause any symptoms and usually begin as red or pink and over time they may
darken to more of a purple/brown colour.
Further characteristics of Port-wine stains can also
Size - Vary in size
from a few millimetres to several centimetres.
Location - A common area
for a Port-wine stains to appear is on one side of the face, neck, and head,
but they have been known to also affect the abdomen, arms or legs.
Texture – Usually Port-wine stains begin as being flat and
smooth to touch. But possibly over time they may become thicker or bumpy.
Bleeding - When scratched or injured the skin of a Port-wine
stain may be more prone to bleeding.
What causes port-wine stains?
Port-wine stains are caused by an abnormality with the
capillaries in the skin (very small blood vessels). Capillaries are normally
narrow. But with port wine stains they are dilated which allows blood to
collect in them. This is what gives Port-wine stains their colour.
You may notice that Port-wine stains become larger or change
shape due to the growth of the capillaries.
How are port-wine stains treated?
Port-wine stains don’t usually need treatment, for cosmetic
reasons some people choose to have them faded, this is usually done using laser
Laser and light treatment work by using heat to damage the
abnormal blood vessels. This causes the blood vessel to close up and
disintegrate after a few weeks, helping to shrink, fade, or possibly remove
There are many factors involved that will determine how many
treatment sessions are needed, including skin colour, size and location.
Laser treatments possibly wont completely remove a Port-wine
stain but they can be lightened in colour or make them less noticeable.