Portwine Stains - (Capillary Malformation or Nevus Flameus)
Portwine stains, (nevus flameus) are birthmarks composed of dilated small blood vessels in the skin. These lesions are present at birth and persist throughout life. They most often grow in size as the child grows. Portwine stains do not grow at a fast rate or go away.
No one knows what causes portwine stains. They occur in 1 in 200 newboms. For most children, the portwine stain is not linked to any other problems. Sometimes portwine stains of the face can be linked to eye problems and nervous system problems (Sturge-Weber syndrome). In the same way, portwine stains of the arms and legs can be related to tissue overgrowth of the arm or leg underlying the stain (Klippel-Trenaunay syndrome).
Most children with portwine stains have a problem that is only skin deep. A treatment for the portwine stain has been developed using laser treatment especially the pulsed dye laser. Most portwine stains will darken and thicken slowly with time. The laser treatments can be used to prevent these changes. It also greatly improves the appearance of the portwine stain.
Laser therapy of the skin is used every 6-8 weeks for an average of 4 to 8 treatment sessions. Most children show much improvement in the stain after laser treatment. Stains in the center of the face and on the arms and legs do not resolve as well as other stains. It is rare for laser treatment to result in complete removal of a portwine stain. The risk of scarring with the pulsed dye laser is less than 1 in 100. When stains are widespread or close to eyes, anesthesia may be needed for pain or keep the patient still during the laser therapy. Smaller stains can be treated with the use of a cream called EMLA® which numbs the skin.
Further information about portwine stains can be obtained from the National Congenital Portwine Stain Foundation, 125 E. 63rd St., New York, NY 10021.
The phone number is (516) 867-5137 or FAX: (516) 869-1278.
UW Dermatology Department
1 S. Park St 7th Floor
Madison, WI 53715
Clinic: 608 287-2450
American Family Children’s Hospital
Pediatric Dermatology Specialty Clinic
1675 Highland Ave.
Madison, WI 53792
Clinic: 608 263-6420
The Spanish version of this Health Facts for You is #7157.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 02/23/2011
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