How to Lighten Birthmarks

by Christina McDonald-Legg ; Updated September 28, 2017

A birthmark is extra pigmentation in the skin that forms a marking and is present at birth. Birthmarks are made of cells forming the inner lining of our blood vessels. While they come in all sizes and shapes – flat, raised, tan, black, pink, regular or irregular borders – there are two main types: red, vascular birthmarks like ‘strawberry’ birthmarks, and pigmented birthmarks, such as moles, according to WebMD. Some people wish to either lighten or eliminate their birthmarks.

Speak with a dermatologist or health care provider to ensure that your birthmark does not point to any underlying health concerns. Once it has been established that there are no underlying health risks, you can begin to try to lighten your birthmark.

Begin using a good quality face or body scrub on the area with the birthmark daily. This will help slough away any dead skin cells so that new, healthy ones can grow.

Apply the vitamin-A derivative Retin-A every day to lighten hyper-pigmentation. This over-the-counter cream is usually used to treat acne and can be purchased from any pharmacy. The cream penetrates the dermis, helping new skin cells to be formed. A popular home remedy used is lemon juice, which is considered to have natural bleaching properties that can lighten a birthmark.

Contact a dermatologist again to speak with him about intense pulsed light or laser treatments if at-home treatments don’t work. These types of laser treatments can reduce the color of certain birthmarks and, sometimes, eliminate them entirely. However, keep in mind that even a very skilled surgeon cannot remove a birthmark without leaving some sort of a scar so you must weigh the cosmetic benefits against the potential scar. Also, according to WebMD, some birthmarks may begin to re-darken again after a number of years, even with laser treatment.


  • Be sure that your skin is clean and freshly scrubbed with a good body scrub prior to applying any topical medicines or treatments.

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About the Author

Christina McDonald-Legg has been writing about health, wellness and travel since 1999. Her articles have appeared in "Colures Magazine" (London), "The Sunday Times" (Dublin), "The Connacht Tribune" (Galway) and "The Seattle Post-Intelligencer," and been featured online by the U.K. Department of Health. McDonald-Legg holds a Master of Arts in journalism from the National University of Ireland.