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Lentiginous Melanocytic Nevus

Last updated Oct. 27, 2018

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD, MPH

Lentiginous Melanocytic Nevus is described as an early phase in the formation of melanocytic nevus. It is a benign, pigmented skin tumor that chiefly forms on the upper and lower limbs and on the trunk region.


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

  • Lentiginous Melanocytic Naevus

What is Lentiginous Melanocytic Nevus? (Definition/Background Information)

  • A nevus (plural nevi) is a mole on the skin that can occur on any part of the body. A melanocytic nevus is benign tumor of melanocytic (pigment-based) cells that occur on the skin
  • Lentiginous Melanocytic Nevus is described as an early phase in the formation of melanocytic nevus. It is a benign, pigmented skin tumor that chiefly forms on the upper and lower limbs and on the trunk region
  • It is a common condition that appears as multiple, flat skin lesions. Lentiginous Melanocytic Nevus occurs in a wide range of individuals including young children and older adults
  • The cause of Lentiginous Melanocytic Nevus is generally unknown; although the risk factors include sun damage, ultraviolet light exposure, and Peutz-Jeghers syndrome
  • In a majority of cases, no treatment in necessary, unless it causes worrisome symptoms or cosmetic concerns in the individual
  • A simple surgical excision of the lesion is considered curative. The prognosis for Lentiginous Melanocytic Nevus is excellent with suitable treatment

Who gets Lentiginous Melanocytic Nevus? (Age and Sex Distribution)

  • Lentiginous Melanocytic Nevus is a benign skin condition that may occur in a wide age range of individuals; both children and adults may be affected
  • Males and females are affected and there is no gender bias observed
  • Individuals of all racial and ethnic background may be affected

What are the Risk Factors for Lentiginous Melanocytic Nevus? (Predisposing Factors)

Currently, the following risk factors have been identified for Lentiginous Melanocytic Nevus:

  • Peutz-Jeghers syndrome
  • Prolonged sun exposure, exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light
  • Use of tanning beds, tanning parlors
  • Exposure to intense sun for long periods during the course of work or due to regular participation in outdoor sports activities
  • People living in geographical regions where hot-dry, desert-like climatic conditions prevail

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 Lentiginous Melanocytic Nevus? (Etiology)

  • The cause of development of Lentiginous Melanocytic Nevus is unknown. Some researchers believe that it may be due to exposure to sunlight
  • Genetic mutations have been detected in some cases, which are currently being characterized

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Lentiginous Melanocytic Nevus?

The signs and symptoms of Lentiginous Melanocytic Nevus include:

  • It generally occurs as multiple, small, well-defined skin spots
  • The spots are uniformly pigmented and flat; the color of the lesion may be brown or black
  • It is slow-growing and may range in size from 1-10 mm (average 6 mm in diameter)
  • The lesions are usually painless and non-itchy
  • It may appear anywhere on the body, except on the palms and soles. Lentiginous Melanocytic Nevus is mostly observed in the chest, back, arms and legs

How is Lentiginous Melanocytic Nevus Diagnosed?

A diagnosis of Lentiginous Melanocytic Nevus may involve the following:

  • A thorough medical history and physical examination
  • 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: Lentiginous Melanocytic Nevus may be misdiagnosed as nevus spilus in some cases, since they are histologically similar to each other.

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 Lentiginous Melanocytic Nevus?

  • Lentiginous Melanocytic Nevus is a common and benign skin condition. It does not cause any significant complication
  • However, some individuals may have concerns regarding their appearance, especially when it appears on the face and neck
  • Current research does not indicate any malignant transformation of these skin lesions

How is Lentiginous Melanocytic Nevus Treated?

The treatment of Lentiginous Melanocytic Nevus may involve the following:

  • In a majority of cases, removal of the tumor is not necessary, unless it causes bothersome signs and symptoms such as cosmetic issues
  • The treatment of choice is a complete surgical excision, which can result in a cure

How can Lentiginous Melanocytic Nevus be Prevented?

Currently, there are no known methods to prevent Lentiginous Melanocytic Nevus occurrence. However, some of the risk factors may be recognized and controlled. These include:

  • Avoid or minimize sun exposure
  • Limit the use of tanning beds, tanning parlors
  • Smoking cessation

What is the Prognosis of Lentiginous Melanocytic Nevus? (Outcomes/Resolutions)

  • The prognosis for Lentiginous Melanocytic Nevus is excellent with appropriate treatment, since it is a benign tumor
  • No malignant transformations have been recorded and the skin lesions are known to remain unaffected or unchanged for a long duration of time, in a vast majority of individuals

Additional and Relevant Useful Information for Lentiginous Melanocytic Nevus:

  • There is no evidence to prove that the intake of certain foods have an influence on Lentiginous Melanocytic Nevus development
  • Cleaning the skin too hard with strong chemicals or soaps may aggravate the skin condition. Care must be taken avoid strong soaps and chemicals that could potentially worsen the condition
  • The presence of dirt on the body is not a causative factor for the condition. However, it helps to be clean and hygienic, which may help the condition from getting worse

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: Feb. 3, 2017
Last updated: Oct. 27, 2018