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Ask Doctor Cory.

Dear Dr. Cory:

What is a birthmark? Robin P. * Natrona Heights, Pennsylvania

Dear Robin:

Birthmarks appear on the skin at birth or shortly afterwards. They may be shades of red, brown, or black. Doctors do not know what causes most birthmarks, and no one has discovered a way to prevent them. They are not caused by anything that the mother did or did not do during pregnancy. Some people don't have any birthmarks. Others have several.

Birthmarks may shrink, fade, or grow with the child. Most do not cause any problems. However, a few dark brown or black ones may turn into skin cancer. A skin doctor should check large birthmarks.


Port-Wine Stain

One type of birthmark is called a port-wine stain. Its red, blue, or purplish color comes from extra blood vessels just beneath the skin. Port-wine stains usually appear on the face, but can be anywhere on the body. As a person gets older, port-wine stains usually get darker and thicker.

These birthmarks may keep children from feeling good about their appearance. The sooner they are treated, the sooner the child can feel better about himself. Luckily, doctors know a safe way to remove these types of birthmarks. They can use a laser to destroy the extra blood vessels without harming the skin. As the area heals, normal blood vessels grow to replace the larger ones.

Dear Dr. Cory:

Our nephew was recently burned when he was accidentally placed in bath water that was too hot. We live in an apartment and don't have access to a hot water heater to turn the temperature down. What can we do to prevent hot water burns with our children? We would appreciate any suggestions!

Natalie Berkholz * New York, New York

Dear Ms. Berkholz:

You are wise to be concerned about this safety issue. Burn injuries are the leading cause of accidental death in the home for children 14 and under. And 95 percent of scald burns occur among children younger than five years of age.

To help prevent hot water burns:

* Install anti-scald devices on water faucets and showerheads. The devices are fairly inexpensive and can be installed by you or a plumber;

* Always test bath water with your elbow before placing a child in the bath. If it feels hot to you, it will burn a child;

* Get knob covers for the bathtub so a child can't accidentally turn on a faucet;


* Place the child with his back to the faucet so he can't easily reach it;

* Cold water should be turned on first, then turned off last when running water in the tub or sink;

* Use a cool-mist rather than a hot-steam vaporizer, when needed;

* Set accessible water heaters to 120 degrees F. (49 degrees C.) or lower.

HotStop anti-scald tub spouts, shower heads, and hand showers are available for purchase and will hopefully decrease the number of scalding injuries.

When hot water reaches an unsafe temperature, the HotStop products quickly reduce the water flow to a trickle to avoid scalding. Once the water in the line cools, the flow re-starts automatically--usually in less than 30 seconds. HotStop products install in minutes and require no special tools or plumbing expertise.

HotStop products are available nationally at Lowe's and Menards or by calling American Valve (877) 531-7470. For more information go to:

To test your hot water temperature:

Run the hot water in your sink or tub for five minutes. While the water is running, hold a meat or candy thermometer under the stream for one minute. Turn off the water and read the temperature on the thermometer. If it reads above 120 degrees F., adjust the setting of your hot water heater to 120 degrees F. or lower.

See you next issue!

Do you have a question about your child's health? Send it to:

"Ask Doctor Cory" Humpty Dumpty's Magazine P.O. Box 567 Indianapolis, IN 46206

Or email your questions to:
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Author:SerVaas, Cory
Publication:Humpty Dumpty's Magazine
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2009
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