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What Is a Port Wine Stain?

By April 23, 2018May 11th, 2023Skin Care

Birthmarks are incredibly common, and many people have different kinds of birthmarks on their bodies. Although these marks usually do not have any health implications, sometimes, they are cause for concern. What are port wine stain birthmarks in newborn infants?

How to Spot a Port Wine Stain


A port wine stain is named for its resemblance to spilled wine. It appears as a red “splotch” just beneath the skin. They are often a faint red mark at birth and can darken with age and last into adulthood.

Causes of a Port Wine Stain

Port wine stains do not have anything to do with a woman’s health or actions during pregnancy. Instead, they are caused when chemical signals in blood vessels cause blood vessels to expand in size, turning the skin red. Research suggests this is the result of the mutation of one specific gene. Our dermatology clinic can assess the mark if you’re unsure whether you or your child has a port wine stain.

Health Concerns

Luckily, few risks come as a result of port wine stains, as it is related mainly to cosmetic dermatology. However, for around three percent of those with port wine stains, the genetic mutation may be associated with Sturge-Weber syndrome, which is a condition affecting the brain. This small percentage may suffer seizures, eye problems, migraines, and learning deficiencies. Another concern is if the port wine stain is around the eye or eyelid, as this may result in glaucoma.

Growing with a Port Wine Stain

As a child grows, this birthmark will grow as well. Often, the light red stain turns darker and turns to a deep red or purple. The stained skin may be drier than the surrounding skin; however, there is rarely itching or bleeding associated with the stain. If there is any discomfort or bleeding associated with the birthmark, one of our dermatologists at The Dermatology Clinic should assess it.

Like any other birthmark, port wine stains are simply a natural part of the human body. If you need help identifying a port wine stain, then schedule an appointment with The Dermatology Clinic or call us at (225) 769-7546 today!