In this article, we look into the different birthmark removal options suitable for both adults and children: medication, topicals, laser, surgery, and natural remedies. We also guide you through the types of birthmarks, costs, pain levels, and complications.
Birthmarks are generally harmless and don’t pose any danger to your health and wellbeing. In fact, some marks even completely disappear on their own with age.
Dermatologists can often tell you whether a birthmark will fade or stay on your skin. After examining your birthmark, your doctor can also let you know whether it should be removed or not and what is the most suitable treatment for your skin.
Let’s get started!
Types of birthmarks
According to the NHS, there are 6 main types of birthmarks  :
Salmon patches (common)
- Red/pink patches
- Location: eyelids, head, neck
- Usually fade by the age of 2
Strawberry marks (common in premature babies, twins, low-weight babies)
- Raised bright red lump on the skin (caused by raised blood vessels)
- Skin may look purple/blue if the mark appears under the skin
- Usually appear after birth, grow for 6-12 months, and fade (or shrink) by the age of 7
- Treatment is needed if the mark affects vision, breathing, or feeding
- Red, purple, or dark skin patches (look like very dark patches on dark-skinned people)
- Location: face and neck; usually affect only one side of the body
- May become darker and lumpy if not treated (early laser treatment is most effective)
- Can be a sign of Sturge-Weber syndrome and Klippel-Trenaunay syndrome, or macrocephaly-capillary malformation
Cafe-au-lait spots (common)
- Light or dark brown skin patches (look darker on dark-skinned people)
- Shape and size vary
- Usually 1 or 2, can be anywhere on the body
- If a child has 6 or more, could be a sign of neurofibromatosis type 1
Blue-gray spots (common on babies with darker skin)
- Look like a bruise
- Location: lower back, bottom, arms, legs
- Usually fade by the age of 4
- Not dangerous
Congenital moles (common on babies with darker skin)
- Brown/black moles (look darker on dark-skinned people)
- May become darker, raised, and hairy during puberty
- If large, they may develop into cancer (regular screening should be done)
- No need for treatment unless risk of cancer
Birthmark removal methods
Strawberry marks benefit the most from a topical treatment. The most common topical medication for birthmark removal is timolol, a beta-blocker medication either in cream form, drops, or liquid. This active cream causes the marks to shrink and fade. It steps the formation of new blood vessels and shrinks the blood vessels forming the strawberry mark. Some results can be observed in a few weeks after starting the topical treatment. 
Stay away from birthmark and mole removal creams sold freely on the internet, as they may cause skin damage, scarring (keloids) and are unlikely to be effective.  Instead, speak to your dermatologist for cream suggestions.
- Corticosteroids. Dermatologists may prescribe corticosteroid pills or injections into the birthmark
- Interferon. Injected into the birthmark daily. Screening for side effects is essential
- Propranolol. This is beta-blocker taken orally to stop further growth and shrink the birthmark
Spots with irregular borders and red marks like port-wine spots and strawberry marks have the best results from laser treatment. Unfortunately, cafe-au-lait spots and light marks with smooth edges are unlikely to fade and may recur after laser treatment. 
Your dermatologist will tell you whether your birthmark will benefit from laser treatment, which type of laser should be used, and how many sessions you will need for optimal effect.
After the laser birthmark removal therapy, you should take proper care of your skin. Here are some tips  :
- Moisturize regularly with fragrance-free moisturizer or pure Aloe Vera gel
- Do not scratch the skin
- Use an SPF of at least 30 until the skin heals. Reapply often to ensure protection
Surgical removal of birthmarks is often a good choice for people whose marks may damage the surrounding healthy skin and soft tissues. For example, some types of scalp birthmarks may lead to bald patches, while marks on the face may damage eyes, nose and mouth tissues.
Other useful things to know about plastic surgery birthmark removal  :
- After removal of large marks, the treated area may be sore and swollen for a few days. This is normal.
- It’s essential to schedule a follow-up appointment with your doctor 7-10 days after the surgery
- Keep the bandages on the skin until the follow-up appointment
- Full recovery is expected within 4-6 weeks after surgery
You may have seen various natural methods for birthmark removal on the internet. The two most common ones are applying olive oil or lemon juice to the skin. However, these (and other natural remedies) are not backed by scientific studies and their safety and efficacy are unknown.
Furthermore, using ingredients like lemon juice may damage the skin, causing skin allergy, dryness, itchiness, and irritation.
Instead of using shady remedies that may cause skin issues, speak to your dermatologist about birthmark removal therapies that are suitable for you.
What are the costs?
How painful are the procedures?
When is removal medically necessary?
The American Academy of Dermatology suggests watching out for the following factors on your or your child’s birthmark  :
- Rapid growth
- Birthmark breaking open
- More than one color
- Jagged border
These signs may indicate that the birthmark may cause problems in the future, and you should speak to your dermatologist soon about treatment options.
Furthermore, birthmark removal is recommended in the following cases  :
- Strawberry mark located on the face or groin.
- Port-wine stain. Early treatment is suggested for best results, as this mark does not fade away on its own.
- Very large or visible marks may cause self-confidence issues. Therefore, these birthmarks can be removed for aesthetic reasons.