Ask A Dermatologist: What Is A Mongolian Blue Spot And What Should You Do About It?

Health & Medical Articles

Millions of people in the United States have moles and birthmarks, most of which are perfectly harmless. Nonetheless, some of these skin conditions can present unsightly symptoms, and parents may worry that their child's birthmark will develop into something more harmful. Mongolian blue spots are distinctive birthmarks that sometimes appear on newborns. Learn more about this skin condition, and find out if you need to do anything if you spot these symptoms.

Symptoms to look for

Mongolian blue spots normally appear on babies shortly after birth. These birthmarks are blue/gray with a rather irregular shape. The skin texture is generally the same as any other part of the body, and the marks are normally two to eight centimeters wide. A dermatologist will sometimes refer to the condition as congenital dermal melanocytosis.

Mongolian blue spots can sometimes alarm new parents, as the marks will often look rather like bruises. You will normally find the marks around the base of the spine or on your baby's buttocks. In some cases, Mongolian blue spots can cover a relatively large area on the back.


Melanin is the pigment that occurs naturally in your skin, hair and eyes, and people with dark skin have more melanin than their lighter-skinned counterparts. Melanin comes from special cells called melanocytes that normally occur in the epidermis.

As a baby develops, the melanocytes gradually move into the epidermis. In some cases, these cells remain in the lower part of the dermis, causing Mongolian blue spots to appear. Doctors are unsure why this situation occurs, but there is no evidence that any action by the mother during pregnancy causes this condition.


The prevalence of Mongolian blue spots varies between ethnic groups. Caucasian children are unlikely to experience this condition, but Asian, East Indian and African babies commonly get these symptoms. Indeed, evidence shows that up to 90 percent of Native American babies have Mongolian blue spots.

The symptoms can also vary between children. Some infants have persistent Mongolian spots, which are larger than other marks. Ectopic Mongolian spots can appear on more unusual parts of the body, such as the face.

Mongolian blue spots are slightly more common in boys than girls. Doctors don't yet understand why this is the case.

Diagnosis and treatment

A dermatologist will not normally need to run any special tests to diagnose the condition. He or she will generally diagnose Mongolian blue spots with a simple visual examination of the child.

What's more, your son or daughter will not normally need any treatment for the condition. Mongolian blue spots usually fade over time. By the time your child reaches adolescence, the symptoms will nearly always disappear.

When to consider cosmetic camouflage

If one of these birthmarks is particularly large or on an obvious part of your son or daughter's body, the condition can cause some embarrassment. If your son or daughter worries about the problem, your dermatologist may suggest that your child uses cosmetic camouflage.

Dermatologists use several types of cosmetic camouflage. Dyes, creams, self-tanning products and cosmetics are all forms of temporary cosmetic camouflage. A skin expert can help you find the best solution for your son or daughter and will carefully match the product to your child's skin color and tone.

Cosmetic camouflage is easy to apply, and most children won't find it any more difficult than brushing their teeth. For certain parts of the body, you can leave products on for three or four days, but, if you use camouflage on the face or neck, you must normally use a cleansing cream to remove the camouflage every night. Your dermatologist will always explain what you need to do.

Mongolian blue spots commonly affect children in certain ethnic groups. These birthmarks are harmless, but a dermatologist can help your child cover up any spots that cause embarrassment. You can also click here for more info about finding a dermatologist near you.


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