Birthmarks are special. Like tattoos, they identify us as individuals, making us one of a kind in a sea of many that are so similar. According to good old Wikipedia, a birthmark is defined as “…congenital, benign irregularity on the skin which is present at birth or appears shortly after birth, usually in the first month.” They don’t discriminate, either, coming in all sorts of different shapes, colours and sizes. Most birthmarks are small, rarely making for conversation starters, but in some cases they reach notable proportions, spreading over the body.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, “birthmarks can manifest in any number of ways—from pigmented birthmarks, to vascular ones.” The former usually consists of small brown spots, not much bigger than the nail of your pinkie finger, but can sometimes manifest as a “café-au-lait” spot, or a “Mongolian spot”, both of which can be a little larger—and can sometimes even fade away over time. The latter type can produce marks that are a little unsightly, from “salmon patches”, to hemangiomas to “port wine stains” and are generally caused by the clumping of blood vessels under the skin. Both of these can develop hair follicles, which is probably what everyone who has such a birthmark is hoping for, right?
In some rare cases, these birthmarks can spread, taking up a notable part of the body—requiring removal. Fortunately, most of these marks manifest at birth, so if you’ve made it into your twenties without anything developing, chances are that you’re in the clear. Here are 15 cases of individuals with birthmarks that seem more fictional than real-life.
15. Elvish Ears
Most people will have one skin tag during their lifetime, they can appear all over the body. Most of which are very easy to remove. Generally, skin tags, or as they are properly called, an accessory tragus, are a common occurrence, despite their odd appearance. According to the Journal of American Academy for Dermatology (JAAD), “An accessory tragus (AT) is a congenital flesh coloured nodule occasionally covered with vellus hair.” While they aren’t a cause of concern for adults, they can be in babies, as their appearance has been linked to hearing loss (although this is the exception, not the rule). For those who choose to make due with what they’ve been given, an accessory tragus does make for an exceptional piercing placement, though (see above).
14. World Map
A port-wine stain is a birthmark that really looks like a glass of red wine was splashed across the skin. It is important to note that even if these birth marks begin as a soft pink color, port-wine stains tend to become much more dark with age. Most often resulting in a reddish purple color. A fairly common type of birthmark, port wine stains (nevus flammeus) appear on the skin from birth, often darkening as the individual reaches adulthood. They can range from small to large, from smooth to bumpy. While there is no prevention or cure for the marks, it is possible to minimize their appearance, depending on where the mark is located (those found on the face can be a little trickier to contend with). One individual, Imgur user Mneneon, has quite an original mark—covering his hands and arms—his birthmark is not unlike a world map.
13. Birthmark model
Born with congenital melanocytic nevus (a condition that occurs in 1 out of 20,000 births with no known cure or prevention method), 16-year-old Alba Parejo faced self-confidence issues growing due to the birthmarks that cover most of her body—some of which caused her a considerable amount of emotional and physical pain. By the time she was only five years old, she had undergone approximately 30 operations to relive some of her discomfort. After posting some pictures of herself via social media sites, she gained the confidence to enter a modelling competition—which she won. From Barcelona, Spain, Parejo is now the face of a body confidence campaign. People need to look to her as an inspiration, even though she may look different on the outside, she has found a way to accept this and persevere. She is truly beautiful on the outside, making her differences even more special.
12. Tough cookie
Little Matilda Callaghan was born with a formidable purple mark on her face and body. While doctors first thought that the marking might be a bruise, they were able to confirm that the mark was in fact, a birthmark. After only two weeks in this world, Callaghan was diagnosed with a rare neurological and skin condition known as Sturge Weber Syndrome (the brave little girl was also born with two holes in her heart, just in case her tiny body didn’t already have enough to deal with). The condition, while being unsightly, can also lead to learning difficulties, seizures and potentially, paralysis. While doctors were unsure of the Lancashire native’s survival, Callaghan has flourished, although she has faced problems learning to walk (she is paralyzed on one side of her body), and as of 2016, she had trouble seeing, due to glaucoma, which is also a side effect of her condition. Treated at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, Callaghan may face treatments for the next decade.
11. Touched by cupid.
Born in 2015, Poppy-Rae was conceived on Valentine’s Day—making the heart-shaped birthmark on her head an adorable coincidence. The mark developed a couple days following the baby’s birth, spawning health concerns on behalf of her parents, who were quickly assured that Poppy-Rae’s mark was completely harmless. While the original plan was to have the birthmark removed, her parents have since decided to leave the marking, as it is quite special. Her mother, Jade, had this to say: “At first we worried that Poppy-Rae would be bullied as she grew up, or struggle to find a boyfriend…But now, we’ve realized that her birthmark is what makes her unique and it makes her more beautiful to us both.”
10. Hereditary marker.
Toddler MilliAnna sports a hereditary birthmark that spans at least three generations. Caused by a condition known as poliosis, the condition is harmless. Poliosis, which is caused by a lack of melanin, results in a patch of white hair in the affected area. The Creulla de Vil-like marker, is apparent in both MilliAnna’s mother, Brianna Worthy, and her maternal grandmother, Jennifer. Worthy’s grandmother was adopted, so the family is unable to confirm how far back the birthmark actually goes. One thing they know for sure is how special their birthmarks are. Together these women sport a unique, yet beautiful look. As pictured below, you can see all three generations!
Sabah native Evita Patcey Edgar Delmundo has come a long way from her days of being bullied at school (“chocolate chip” and “monster” were some of her classmates’ favourite names for her). While enduring name-calling was difficult, she did manage to overcome many of her self-confidence issues after attending a church camp when she was just 16 years old. Now 20 years of age, the part Filipino, Delmundo just auditioned for Miss Universe Malaysia 2018 (June 2017). She is also very admired as she has quite the following online. Covered in brown birthmarks, the beauty has over 64 thousand followers on Instagram, and works part time in a cat café.
8. Dancer Cassandra Naud
We think it’s great that Alberta’s Cassandra Naud has embraced what makes her different—something that we should all do, really. Born with a pigmented mark that takes up most of her cheek, Naud believes that her mark is what makes her stand out. With the mark being too risky to remove as a child, Naud waited until she was a teenager, but then decided against the procedure. As a dancer living in Los Angeles, Naud believes that the mark has added to her career—and now has over thirty thousand Instagram followers to show for it. Her social media accounts are full of beautiful pictures, showing off her beautiful life. We’re fairly certain her positive attitude has also helped her along the way.
7. A wee red nose
Looking perfectly normal upon her delivery in September 2008, the parents of Connie Lloyd were surprised to notice a tumor growing on the infant’s nose within days of her arrival. Within a month, the growth was one and a half inches in diameter, giving the baby something that was not unlike a clown’s nose. A specialist at Great Ormond Street Hospital diagnosed Lloyd, explaining to her concerned parents that the growth was a benign tumour—one that, if scratched, could cause their little girl to bleed to death. In order to stop the tumour from getting any larger, Lloyd’s parents even tried using Propranolol, a drug typically used to treat persons with heart conditions. Fortunately, surgeon Dr. Iain Hutchison was able to help, removing the tumour and leaving Connie with only a small scar.
6. Baby angel
Born with a birthmark that makes up most of his back, little Oliver Brown’s birthmark resembles angel wings. Covered in light blond hair, the wings appear to be feathered, although the outcome could be far from heavenly. While the child will live a long and healthy life, he must be constantly monitored (every three months) for any signs of cancer, which could develop as a result of this unique birthmark. The condition, known as Congenital Melanocytic Naevi (CMN), requires that those affected to wear prescription sunscreen and clothing with UV protection, in order to prevent aggravation of the mark. What this means that this little angel will need some extra attention throughout his life.
5. An unfortunate case
At only eight years of age, An Qi will soon undergo pro-bono surgery (courtesy of Changchun’s Min Yi Plastic Surgery Hospital) to remove a birthmark that almost completely covers one side of his face. While the little guy was born with this very distinctive mark, it has increased quite a bit in size with age—not to mention that it also has sprouted dark black follicles. Due to its notable size, the hospital’s president, Zheng Xiaoqin, believes that the surgery will have to be performed slowly, requiring four different procedures. Hopefully all goes well for this little guy, we wish him all the best!
4. Growing a new skin
Six-year-old Li Xiaoyuan of South China has presented a puzzling case to her doctors, who believe that she may suffer from a genetic disorder. The birthmark, which started as a birthmark on the girl’s back, began to spread, eventually covering her entire back. Worse, the mark is has made its way to her arms and now, her face. Zhaoqing City Dermatological Hospital’s Surgeon Dr. Lou Zhongquan told the Sydney Morning Herald “If they were smaller we could use laser treatment but even if we removed these with surgery there is a very strong chance of post-surgery hemorrhage,” he told the newspaper.
3. A set of horns
Talk about unusual treatments—young George Ashman was born with a bright red birthmark in the middle of his forehead. His mother, Karen, rightly felt that her son would fall victim to bullying with such a big scar. She opted for an unusual surgery, choosing to implant horns in his forehead in order to create excess skin, making the birthmark easier to remove. While the child endured some bullying due to his unusual modifications (not actually horns, but these lovely things called tissue expanders), the doctors were able to remove the expanders after four months, allowing them to begin work on George Ashman’s birthmark. The new skin, available in excess, was sewn together, leaving only a minimal scar.
2. Not a werewolf
Out of Chongqing of China, Zhang Hongming bears an unfortunate nickname: “Chimpanzee” although we can’t help but notice that his appearance holds a marked resemblance to a certain creature of myth. Hosting a mark that is found on no more than approximately 3% of the population, Hongming’s pigmented birthmark makes up a large part of his body. He has since reached out to specialists for help regarding the mark’s removal.
1. A weight off his back
Talk about a heavy load. Colombian native Didier Montalvo was born with a birthmark that eventually grew so large that it took up about 20% of his body weight—a condition known as congenital melanocytic nevus. The mark was not unlike a turtle shell, sitting atop the boy’s back.
The boy, who is now a teenager, was teased as a youth, and later not permitted to attend school—locals thought that he was cursed (obviously, right?). Fortunately, British plastic surgeon Neil Bulstrode came across Montalvo’s case, flying to Bogotá to remove the mole, free of charge. The surgeon, who works out of Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, was able to remove the growth with a team of doctors, using a series of skin grafts. These days, Montalvo is located in London, where he has been able to meet other children with the same condition—although his case was, by far, the worst that Bulstrode had ever seen.
Sources: thesun.co.uk, dailymail.co.uk, yahoo.com, elle.my, dailymail.co.uk
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