What is a stork bite?
A stork bite, also known as a salmon patch, is a cluster of pink to reddish-purple blood vessels (capillaries) that appear on a newborn’s skin on the back of their head or neck. A stork bite is a type of birthmark. Stork bites are harmless and may fade over time. About 50% of adults still have stork bites.
What are other names for a stork bite?
The medical term for a salmon patch is nevus simplex. A stork bite is a type of salmon patch and falls under the nevus simplex category of birthmarks.
A stork bite refers to the location of a cluster of blood vessels on the body near the back of the head or on the neck. The name comes from the myth where storks deliver babies to parents and the mark would be from the bird picking up the baby by the back of their neck (similar to how a cat picks up their kittens).
You might hear of a salmon patch (nevus simplex) birthmark called an “angel kiss” if the patch is on the face, eyelids or forehead. This type of birthmark generally fades away completely after 1 to 2 years of age.
Who does a stork bite affect?
Stork bites affect most newborns. While the angel kiss salmon patch usually fades after your child turns 1 to 2 years old, the stork bite will often last into adulthood.
How common are stork bites?
Stork bites are the most common type of newborn birthmark and nearly 80% of babies have a type of salmon patch (stork bite or angel kiss) on their skin.
How does a stork bite affect my child?
Stork bites are harmless and do not affect the health of your child. The stork bite may fade over time and will likely be visible to some degree in adulthood, but will be covered by hair.
Symptoms and Causes
What do stork bites look like?
Stork bites have a distinct appearance compared to other birthmarks and their characteristics include:
- Appear on the back of the head or neck.
- Flat mark on the skin without clearly defined borders (macules).
- Pink to reddish-purple color that stands out from your baby’s skin tone.
It's normal for your child’s stork bite to change color, either by becoming more or less vibrant when certain actions take place including:
- The stork bite becomes more visible (turns bright red or purple) when the child cries or gets too warm.
- The stork bite color temporarily turns pale when pressure is put on it (pressing a finger against it and releasing it).
Stork bites are painless and are not a sign of another medical condition. If you notice your child’s stork bite gets larger, turns a color that is not pink, red or purple, or the skin at the stork bite is elevated or swollen, reach out to your healthcare provider to have the birthmark examined.
Where do stork bites appear?
Stork bites appear on the back of a newborn’s head and neck. Salmon patches can appear anywhere on the body, but a stork bite is a specific type of salmon patch located on the back of the head and neck.
What causes a stork bite?
When blood vessels stretch (dilation) under the skin during fetal development, blood flow increases to that area, which causes stork bites to form. The process of blood vessels stretching does not hurt and is not a sign of any underlying medical problems.
Are stork bites a sign of another condition?
No, stork bites are a type of birthmark that will not cause pain and it is not a sign of an underlying medical condition. They only relate to a person’s appearance (cosmetic).
Diagnosis and Tests
How is a stork bite diagnosed?
After your baby is born, your healthcare provider will provide a physical examination of your baby to assess their health. During this physical exam, your healthcare provider will check for birthmarks like a stork bite on the back of their head and neck.
Management and Treatment
How is stork bite treated?
Since stork bites are harmless, they do not need treatment and may begin to fade as your child grows. If your child’s stork bite is not fading as they grow older, especially as they reach adulthood, your healthcare provider can remove the stork bite with a laser for cosmetic reasons.
Do stork bites go away?
Stork bites may go away on their own. You might notice the stork bite’s appearance begin to fade when your child is 1 to 2 years old, but they will likely still have their stork bite through childhood and adulthood. Because the stork bite is covered by hair and not a concern for other underlying conditions, it is often forgotten as kids get older.
How can I reduce my risk of having a child with a stork bite?
There is no known way to prevent the appearance of stork bites or birthmarks. They are a normal occurrence in babies and are present in about 70% of kids.
Outlook / Prognosis
What can I expect if my child has a stork bite?
Stork bites are harmless and add a unique cosmetic feature to your baby’s appearance. They don’t need treatment and pose no threat to your child’s overall health.
It is normal for the color of your child’s stork bite to turn bright pink, red or purple color or become more noticeable when your child cries or gets too warm. If your child’s stork bite grows in size, shape or turns a different color than normal, visit your child’s healthcare provider for an examination.
How long do stork bites last?
Stork bites are present at birth and may fade after your child turns 1 to 2 years old. The birthmark could last through childhood but the birthmark will often be present when your child reaches adulthood.
When should I see my healthcare provider?
If you notice your child’s stork bite changes color to something different than pink, red or purple, if your child’s birthmark grows in size or if the skin around the birthmark swells or puffs up, visit your healthcare provider.
What questions should I ask my doctor?
- What do I do if my child’s birthmark changes size or shape?
- What should I do if my child breaks the skin near their birthmark?
- Will my child’s birthmark return after it fades away?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Stork bites are harmless birthmarks that form on your child’s neck or on the back of their head and are present when they are born. There is no need to worry because stork bites do not need treatment and they may go away on their own. If you notice your child’s stork bite gets bigger or starts swelling, reach out to your healthcare provider.
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