What are Port Wine Stains?
A port wine stain (PWS) is a vascular defect in the skin caused by abnormal proliferation or development of blood vessels within the skin.
The changes that are seen in the blood vessels is caused by a mutation (change in a gene) which occurs during early pregnancy whilst the foetus is growing in the womb. This change in the gene is not inherited and therefore this can’t be passed to the offspring.
A port wine stain defect in the skin is flat, red to purple mark that is present at birth in the new born. Very occasionally with time it is observed that some of the port wine stain may become thicker and darken and develop into a ‘cobblestone’ appearance with easily noticeable palpable bumps and ridges.
It is estimated that 3 out of every 1000 born babies will suffer from port wine stains. Port wine stains can present anywhere on the body but in most of cases they are seen on one side of the body only, but occasionally on both sides where they are always asymmetrical. Interestingly 65 % of port wine stains are on the head and neck and also they are more common in girls than in boys.