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What is a Stork Bite?

By Emma Lloyd
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The stork bite birthmark, also known as nevus flammeus nuchae, nevus simplex, a salmon patch, or an angel’s kiss, is a type of birthmark which develops on around 50% of all babies. In most, however, stork bites disappear within a year or two after birth. There are no temporary or permanent health problems, risk factors, or side effects associated with the stork bite birthmark.

Stork bite lesions occur when capillaries under the skin become dilated or stretched. The capillaries become slightly enlarged, meaning they carry more blood. With more blood close to the surface of the skin, it becomes pink in color. The capillaries that are affected are a carryover from gestation, when extra blood vessels were present to provide nutrition to the growing fetus.

Stork bites are usually light pink in color, and are most often located on the nape of the neck or on the baby’s head, on the eyelids, nose, upper lip, or forehead. They have irregular borders, but often appear somewhat symmetrical in shape. The color of the birthmark may turn darker with changes in room temperature, or if the baby begins to cry. Putting light pressure on a stork bite causes it to disappear, and the mark reappears when the pressure is removed.

These flat birthmarks do not cause the skin to thicken, do not cause skin roughness or any other unusual texture, and are not painful for the baby. Most stork bites fade before the baby is twelve to eighteen months old. Rarely, the birthmark may remain instead of fading; this usually happens when the mark is located on the nape of the baby’s neck.

Babies with stork bite do not need to undergo any diagnostic testing, as the birthmark can easily be diagnosed by sight alone. The lesions are temporary, do not cause pain or any other symptoms, and rarely cause side effects or complications. While these birthmarks are virtually always harmless, they should still be regularly checked during well-baby examinations, as the risk of side effects is rare but still possible.

Stork bites that do not fade can be removed with laser treatment. This type of treatment is often not necessary, however, as the birthmarks are usually covered if hair is worn long. Laser treatment is a purely cosmetic therapy in these cases, since there is no danger in allowing the marks to remain on the skin. Many parents allow the child to choose whether to undergo treatment when he or she is old enough to decide.

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Discussion Comments
By dfoster85 — On Nov 09, 2011

A stork bite can look like a lot of other thinks. My son had one of these and I was convinced it was eczema. It seemed like it developed right after he was lying on the grass, and I thought that it was an allergic reaction to the grass. But then it didn't go away; I was worried that it was something in his food. (Since I was breastfeeding, my personal nightmare was that it would turn out to be a milk intolerance and I would have to give up dairy. I love me some cheese.)

I was so relieved when the pediatrician said it was nothing to worry about that I never even asked her what causes stork bites, so it's interesting to know. My son's was on his nape; I guess that must be the most common place because I suppose when they named it, they were picturing the stork carrying the baby by his nape, like how a cat carries a kitten.

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