Café-au-lait spots, also known as café-au-lait macules, are common pigmented birthmarks characterized by flat patches of skin that are darker in color than the surrounding skin. These spots typically appear at birth or develop during early childhood and can vary in size, shape, and coloration.
Symptoms and Causes of Café-au-lait spots
Café-au-lait (CAL) spots have a distinct appearance on the skin that sets them apart from other birthmarks. Characteristics of CAL spots include:
- Flat spots on the skin, typically on the torso, arms, legs and buttocks.
- Light brown to dark brown color.
- Round or oval shape, between 2 millimeters to more than 20 centimeters in diameter.
- Smooth or rigid border around the spot.
- Spots can grow in size and number with age.
- Spots are painless and don’t cause itchiness or other symptoms.
This condition is generally harmless and do not cause any health problems. However, the presence of multiple café-au-lait spots or very large spots may be associated with certain genetic conditions, such as neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) or McCune-Albright syndrome. In such cases, individuals may have other symptoms or health issues in addition to this condition and further evaluation by a healthcare professional may be warranted.
What Causes Cafe-au-Lait Spots?
An increase in the number of melanocytes causes cafe-au-lait spots. Melanocytes are skin cells that produce melanin, a pigment that darkens the skin.
Having more than six cafe-au-lait spots can signify an underlying genetic condition.
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