Mongolian spots

Alternative names
Mongolian blue spots; Congenital dermal melanocytosis; Dermal melanocytosis

Definition
Mongolian spots are flat bluish to bluish gray skin markings that commonly appear at birth (or shortly thereafter).

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Mongolian blue spots are common among darker skinned races, such as Asian, East Indian, and African. They are flat, pigmented lesions with nebulous borders and irregular shape. They appear commonly at the base of the spine, on the buttocks and back, and also can appear as high as the shoulders and elsewhere. Mongolian spots are benign skin markings and are not associated with any conditions or illnesses.

Occasionally, Mongolian blue spots are mistaken for bruises and questions about child abuse arise. It is important to recognize that Mongolian blue spots are birthmarks, NOT bruises.

Symptoms

     
  • Bluish to blue-gray spots on the back, buttocks, base of spine, or elsewhere  
  • Coloration may resemble bruising  
  • Pigmented area has normal skin texture  
  • May cover a large area of back

Other

     
  • Increased incidence in darker skinned races  
  • Generally disappears by puberty

Signs and tests

Examination of the skin is sufficient to determine that the spots are Mongolian blue spots. No testing is necessary.

Treatment

No treatment is necessary or recommended.

Expectations (prognosis)

The bluish discoloration often fades in a few years and is almost universally gone by adolescence.

Complications

There are no complications.

Calling your health care provider

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

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 4, 2012
by Harutyun Medina, M.D.

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