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Cellular Blue Nevus

Last updated Feb. 24, 2020

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD, MPH


Microscopic pathology image showing a celluar blue nevus on a skin biopsy.

What are the other Names for this Condition? (Also known as/Synonyms)

  • Cellular Blue Mole
  • Cellular Blue Naevus

What is Cellular Blue Nevus? (Definition/Background Information)

  • A nevus (plural nevi) is a mole on the skin that can occur on any part of the body. A blue nevus is a benign proliferation of melanocytes (which makes melanin pigment) in the dermis or skin that is generally bluish in appearance
  • In a Cellular Blue Nevus, the number of melanoma sites is much higher than a regular blue nevus, and hence it is called so. It is an unusual type of mole that in rare cases, can turn into a malignant melanoma
  • The mole can be present anywhere on the body, though most of them are seen on the buttocks and lower back. They appear as papules or nodules
  • Normally, these moles are present during childhood and adolescence. Cellular Blue Nevi are generally asymptomatic in nature, but may present cosmetic concerns in some individuals
  • Sun exposure may be a risk factor for acquiring the condition. Cellular Blue Nevus is observed to occur in a random manner and the cause is unknown
  • Once a Cellular Blue Nevus is confirmed through a diagnosis, it is surgically removed, since there is a probability of it turning into a malignant condition
  • The prognosis is generally excellent with or without treatment, since these moles are generally benign. However, in case of a malignant transformation, the prognosis depends upon various factors, chiefly the stage of the tumor

Who gets Cellular Blue Nevus? (Age and Sex Distribution)

  • Cellular Blue Nevus is a skin condition that may be present at birth or form at any age in an individual. However, children and adolescents are generally noted to have this type of nevus. It is uncommon in older age
  • Both males and females are affected and there is no gender bias observed
  • All racial and ethnic groups are at risk, but this nevus type is more frequent in fair-skinned individuals (Caucasians)

What are the Risk Factors for Cellular Blue Nevus? (Predisposing Factors)

The risk factors identified for Cellular Blue Nevus include:

  • Sun exposure
  • Generally, lighter-skinned races or individuals (such as Caucasians of America and Europe) are at a higher risk compared to other darker-skinned racial groups (such as Africans and Asians)

It is important to note that having a risk factor does not mean that one will get the condition. A risk factor increases ones chances of getting a condition compared to an individual without the risk factors. Some risk factors are more important than others.

Also, not having a risk factor does not mean that an individual will not get the condition. It is always important to discuss the effect of risk factors with your healthcare provider.

What are the Causes of Cellular Blue Nevus? (Etiology)

  • The cause of Cellular Blue Nevus formation is unknown
  • It is believed to be acquired due to certain unknown factors. The cause may be probably genetic

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Cellular Blue Nevus?

Cellular Blue Nevus may not present any signs and symptoms in most cases. The general features of the condition include:

  • It is a benign tumor of melanocytic cells on the skin. They may be single or many in numbers
  • It is usually well-defined and ranges from 1-3 cm in size (larger than a common blue nevus). These moles/nevi are usually round or oval in shape; although they can be of any shape
  • They can be present as a papule or nodule (a raised mass). A papule is an area of abnormal skin tissue that is less than 1 centimeter around. Usually a papule has distinct borders, and it can appear in a variety of shapes
  • The benign nevus is usually slow-growing and pigmented. The color may vary from blue to blue black
  • The pigment color over the mole is usually uniform, although sometimes irregular pigmentation is observed. This can cause concerns of a melanoma and may need to be investigated by a healthcare provider
  • Cellular Blue Nevi can occur anywhere on the body. However, many of them are seen on the buttocks, lower back, and head and neck region

They usually occur early in life and grow in size, as the child becomes an adult. As one age, these moles may become smaller and in many cases, they can disappear.

How is Cellular Blue Nevus Diagnosed?

A Cellular Blue Mole/Nevus is diagnosed through the following tools:

  • Complete physical examination with evaluation of medical history
  • Dermoscopy: It is a diagnostic tool where a dermatologist examines the skin using a special magnified lens
  • Wood’s lamp examination: In this procedure, the healthcare provider examines the skin using ultraviolet light. It is performed to examine the change in skin pigmentation
  • Skin biopsy: A skin biopsy is performed and sent to a laboratory for a pathological examination. The pathologist examines the biopsy under a microscope. After putting together clinical findings, special studies on tissues (if needed) and with microscope findings, the pathologist arrives at a definitive diagnosis

Note: When examined under a microscope by a pathologist, the numbers of melanoma sites are much higher than a common blue nevus.

Many clinical conditions may have similar signs and symptoms. Your healthcare provider may perform additional tests to rule out other clinical conditions to arrive at a definitive diagnosis.

What are the possible Complications of Cellular Blue Nevus?

There are frequently no complications that arise from a Cellular Blue Nevus.

  • However, in rare cases, a Cellular Blue Nevus can transform into a melanoma (a malignant skin cancer). Due to this factor, the nevus is typically removed through a surgery
  • In some individuals, it may give rise to cosmetic concerns
  • Scratching or itching of the moles may lead to bleeding and ulceration. This can cause secondary bacterial or fungal infections to develop

How is Cellular Blue Nevus Treated?

The treatment measures for Cellular Blue Nevus include:

  • Surgical excision and removal of the mole
  • Blue Nevus can also be excised through electrocautery surgical procedure
  • Regular follow up visits may be recommended by the healthcare provider

How can Cellular Blue Nevus be Prevented?

Current medical research has not established a way of preventing the occurrence of Cellular Blue Nevi. However the following measures can help these moles from becoming either a dysplastic mole or a melanoma:

  • Minimize direct exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays
  • Avoid tanning beds and sun lamps
  • Perform self-examination of your skin, from head to toe, once a month (especially if you are at risk)
  • Get a professional skin exam from a healthcare provider, once a year
  • Do not pick or scratch the moles, which can cause it to ulcerate and bleed

What is the Prognosis of Cellular Blue Nevus? (Outcomes/Resolutions)

  • The prognosis of Cellular Blue Nevus is excellent on its complete excision and removal
  • In rare cases, the nevus may transform into a malignant melanoma; in which case, the prognosis depends upon several factors including the stage of the tumor

Additional and Relevant Useful Information for Cellular Blue Nevus:

The following DoveMed website link is a useful resource for additional information:


What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?

References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Dec. 15, 2015
Last updated: Feb. 24, 2020