It does almost look as if some dark red wine has stained the
skin. While an obvious port wine stain did not stop Mikhail
Gorbachev from becoming president of the Soviet Union, many
families don't want their port wine stains to remain so
What is it?
A port wine stain, or nevus flammeus, is a birthmark
consisting of malformed, dilated blood vessels in the skin.
It is not a type of hemanqioma.
Who gets it?
Anyone can be born with a port wine stain. They occur in 1
in 200 to 400 babies.
What are the symptoms?
These are flat, dark red patches, most commonly found on the
face or limbs. They tend not to cross the midline. Usually
they are not associated with other symptoms. However, port
wine stains around the eye suggest that qlaucoma may develop
in that eye. Also, port wine stains on the eyelid or
forehead sometimes signal a similar stain in the brain (Sturge-Weber
syndrome). Other syndromes may be associated with port wine
stains, but they are usually suggested by other symptoms
that are obvious.
Is it contagious?
How long does it last?
Port wine stains are present at birth. Although they may
fade some, most port wine stains are permanent unless
treated. Sometimes they get darker and more textured over
How is it diagnosed?
The diagnosis is usually made by the physical appearance.
Physicians should consider possible associated syndromes,
including Sturge-Weber syndrome, Klippel Trenaunay-Weber
syndrome, Beckwith-Weidemann syndrome, Bonnet-Bechaume Blanc
syndrome, Cobb syndrome, and Proteus syndrome.
How is it treated?
Treatment is for cosmetic, social, and psychological
benefit. Depending on the birthmark and the setting, this
may be very important, or not important at all.
IPL can be very effective. Some families choose masking
make-up, skin grafts, tattoos, or cutting out the birthmark.
Some choose no treatment at all.
How can it be prevented?
There is no effective prevention for port wine stains.