Q I have a port wine stain on my face, which although not big is quite noticeable. I have never bothered about disguising it before, but my little boy is getting teased at school because of me. What can I do?
A: Port-wine stains (naevus flammeus) are red or purple marks, most often on the face, which are caused by a patch of blood vessels that dilate (expand) abnormally. This allows more blood to flow into them causing a ‘stain’ that shows through the top layer of skin.
These marks are almost always congenital, and occur in about three in 1000 babies. The lesions are usually flat and pink at first, but deepen with age and may get thicker, or develop little lumps (nodules). They are not hereditary or caused by anything a mother does in pregnancy.
Port wine stains are mostly harmless. But it’s always worth talking to your GP, to make sure there is no underlying condition. The biggest problem, particularly when they are on the face, is the distress and loss of self-esteem they can cause.
The simplest solution is skin camouflage. Your GP can refer you to the Skin Camouflage Service, which has over 200 clinics in the UK. The British Red Cross ran the Service for 37 years but it has just transferred to Changing Faces, the leading charity for people with conditions affecting their appearance.
You can also self-refer. Fill in the form online at changingfaces.org.uk/skin-camouflage, telephone 0300 012 0276, or email email@example.com
A skin camouflage practitioner will contact you to arrange a one-to-one consultation. This lasts an hour during which the practitioner will carefully match skin type and special products, and also show you how to apply them. The camouflage creams are waterproof and last up to 12 hours on the face and up to four days on the body. Your GP can then prescribe the products for you.
On a more permanent basis, laser treatment can often lighten port wine stains. This is best done in early childhood. However, complete clearance of the mark is rare. In adults, laser treatment can treat nodules if they occur. Ask your GP for a referral to a dermatologist.
Changing Faces can also offer support and advice. This might help with your little boy. For instance, he could respond to comments by saying ‘my mum was born with a birthmark but it doesn’t hurt her. She takes me to the park at weekends and we play football’. This is called the Explain, Reassure and Distract method. For more information, Changing Faces, tel: 0300 012 0275.
About 4 per cent of the population (and one in ten children) suffer recurrent nosebleeds. Traditional measures include pushing cotton wool plugs in the nostrils, clamping the nose and/or applying ice to the base of the neck. A new gel treatment called Nozohaem, which combines glycine (an amino-acid) and calcium, seems a good one for your First Aid box. It claims to stop the bleeding safely in moments and also help the healing process. £7.99 for four applications. Available nationwide and online from Victoria Health. NB Always use according to instructions.
3 Of The Best:
Children’s Supplements (that they will actually swallow)
Cute, animal-shaped, cherry-flavoured, chewable vegetarian tablets with organic whole foods, probiotics, Vitamin D3, iron and calcium sweetened with tooth-friendly xylitol. For children ‘of chewing age’ upwards. £12.80 for 60 (a month’s supply).
The organic lemon oil in these one-a-day capsules, which contain a range of omega-3s (EPA, DPA and DHA) plus vitamin D3 and vitamin E, effectively masks the fishy taste. Or you could break capsule and mix into yogurt. Age: 5-18. £6.99 for 30 chews. Under-fives can take Paradox Omega Babies £8.99 for 105 ml bottle.
If children are taking a multi-vitamin with probiotic as above, they will only need this if they have a tummy upset, or are taking antibiotics. Age: from two. £15.95 for 90 (one daily).
It’s A Fonda Full Life
As the years go by, joints and muscles tend to stiffen up however fit you are. Our 66 year old tester reports that Jane Fonda’s Prime Time Trim, Tone & Flex DVD, which is all about flexibility of joints and muscles, is ‘very easy to follow. The 40 minute toning and stretching exercises for upper and lower body are simple and you don’t have to jump about. Plus there’s a 10-minute relaxation at the end. I enjoyed it and will carry on using it.’ £10.99 from amazon.co.uk.