Capillary Malformation


Capillary malformation is a common type of vascular malformation which appears as a flat, purple, pink or red stain on your child’s skin as a birthmark. It is congenital (present at the time of birth), painless and harmless except for the psychological effects on the child. It grows in size proportionately with the growth of the child. They are sometimes called flat haemangiomas and can appear on any part of the body. Acquired capillary malformation is a rare form which is not usually present at the time of birth. Two types of capillary malformation are salmon patch (naevus simplex) and port wine stain (naevus flammeus).


The explicit cause of capillary malformation is unknown, but studies infer that nerve development is related in that laboratory studies of the tissue shows decreased nervous tissue in areas where malformations are situation. Consequent reduced vascular muscular tone and progressive consequent dilation have been proposed. A number of gene mutations have been discovered as well as two types of distribution within the skin layers having different responses to therapy.


There are no physical symptoms of capillary malformation other than the appearance of the discoloured patch on the skin, however secondary to this several studies demonstrate that patients with facial capillary malformations exhibit greater self-concern, ruminative self-doubt in interpersonal interactions and social inhibition.


The majority of flat lesions are diagnosed clinically and by physical examination. Your doctor might recommend an ultrasound or MRI if your case is complicated (patch around the eye).


Most commonly, salmon patches (naevus simplex) require no treatment. While port wine stains (naevus flammeus) can be treated depending on the site, extent of severity and nature of the lesion.

Sclerotherapy can often be used effectively for some patterns of this problem.

Laser therapy

A general or topical anaesthesia may be used for the procedure. Laser therapy causes lightening of the patch and most of the time the patch disappears completely. Treatment requires 2 to 20 sittings depending on the depth of the lesion. There is a 3 month interval between each sitting. Laser treatment also helps to prevent thickening of the skin.