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Mongolian blue spots

Mongolian spots; Congenital dermal melanocytosis; Dermal melanocytosis

Mongolian spots are a kind of birthmark that are flat, blue, or blue-gray. They appear at birth or in the first few weeks of life.

Causes

Mongolian blue spots are common among persons who are of Asian, Native American, Hispanic, East Indian, and African descent.

The color of the spots are from a collection of melanocytes in the deeper layers of the skin. Melanoctyes are cells that make the pigment (color) in the skin.

If there are many spots, or a spot covers a large area, it may be a sign of an underlying disorder, such as a metabolism problem called GM1 gangliosidosis type 1.

Symptoms

Mongolian spots are not cancerous and are not associated with disease. The markings may cover a large area of the back.

The markings are usually:

  • Blue or blue-gray spots on the back, buttocks, base of spine, shoulders, or other body areas
  • Flat with irregular shape and unclear edges
  • Normal in skin texture
  • 2 to 8 centimeters wide, or larger

Mongolian blue spots are sometimes mistaken for bruises. This can raise a question about possible child abuse. It is important to recognize that Mongolian blue spots are birthmarks, not bruises.

Exams and Tests

No tests are needed. The health care provider can diagnose this condition by looking at the skin.

If the provider suspects an underlying disorder, further tests will be done.

Treatment

No treatment is needed when Mongolian spots are normal birthmarks. If treatment is needed, lasers may be used.

Spots may be a sign of an underlying disorder. If so, treatment for that problem will likely be recommended. Your provider can tell you more.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Spots that are normal birthmarks often fade in a few years. They are almost always gone by the teen years.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

All birthmarks should be examined by a provider during the routine newborn examination.

References

James WD, Berger TG, Elston DM. Melanocytic nevi and neoplasms. In: James WD, Berger TG, Elston DM, eds. Andrews' Diseases of the Skin: Clinical Dermatology. 12th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 30.

Martin KL. Cutaneous nevi. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St. Geme JW, Schor NF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 651.

    • Mongolian blue spots

      Mongolian blue spots - illustration

      Mongolian blue spots are flat bluish- to bluish-gray skin markings commonly appearing at birth or shortly thereafter. They appear commonly at the base of the spine, on the buttocks and back and also can appear on the shoulders. Mongolian spots are benign and are not associated with any conditions or illnesses.

      Mongolian blue spots

      illustration

    • Neonate

      Neonate - illustration

      A newly born infant is also called a neonate.

      Neonate

      illustration

      • Mongolian blue spots

        Mongolian blue spots - illustration

        Mongolian blue spots are flat bluish- to bluish-gray skin markings commonly appearing at birth or shortly thereafter. They appear commonly at the base of the spine, on the buttocks and back and also can appear on the shoulders. Mongolian spots are benign and are not associated with any conditions or illnesses.

        Mongolian blue spots

        illustration

      • Neonate

        Neonate - illustration

        A newly born infant is also called a neonate.

        Neonate

        illustration

      Review Date: 4/14/2017

      Reviewed By: Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

      The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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