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Becker's Nevus

Becker's Nevus Definition

Becker's nevus is a skin disorder that predominantly affects males. The nevus mostly first appears as an irregular pigmentation (hyperpigmentation) on the torso or upper arm (though other areas of the body can be affected), and gradually enlarges in an irregular shape, becoming thickened and often developing abnormal hair growth (hypertrichosis). It is also known as Becker's pigmented hairy nevus, Becker nevus, Becker pigmented hairy nevus, Becker melanosis and pigmented hairy epidermal nevus.

Becker's Nevus Effects

In 1991, a report documented the cases of nine patients with both Becker's nevus and malignant melanoma. Of the nine patients, five were in the same body area as the nevus, with only a single one occurring within the nevus itself. As this was the first documented co-occurrence of the two diseases, there is no evidence of higher malignancy rates in Becker's nevi versus normal skin. Nevertheless, as with any abnormal skin growth, the nevus should be regularly monitored and any sudden changes in its appearance be brought to the attention of a medical expert.

Becker's Nevus Prevalence

One of the most extensive studies to date, done in 1981 involving nearly 20,000 young Frenchmen, served to dispel many commonly-held beliefs about the disease. In the study, 100 subjects were found to have the nevi, revealing a prevalence of 0.52%. Nevi appeared in half of the subjects before the age of 10, and the rest between ages 10 and 20. In a quarter of cases, sun exposure may have played a role, a number lower than that expected by researchers. Also surprising was the low incidence of Becker's nevi above the nipples, just 32%, for it had generally been believed that the upper chest and shoulder areas were the predominant site of occurrence. Pigmentation of the skin was light brown in 75% of cases, and the average size of the nevus was 125 cm?.

Becker's Nevus Treatment

Because Becker's nevus is considered a benign lesion, treatment is usually not necessary except for cosmetic purposes. Therapeutic intervention for Becker's nevus primarily is for cosmetic reasons since patients usually present with complaints related to hypertrichosis and hyperpigmentation. Trimming or shaving can be effective in removing extra or unwanted hair, while laser hair removal may offer a more permanent solution. Different types of laser treatments may also be effective in eliminating or reducing hyperpigmentation, though the results of laser treatments for both hair and pigment reduction appear to be highly variable. Another mode of treatment, Q-switched ruby laser (694 nm), has been used with variable success in the treatment of both the hypertrichosis and hyperpigmentation of Becker's nevus. A histopathologic analysis of the skin after laser treatment has shown selective damage of melanocytes located superficially but a persistence of adnexal melanocytes. The remaining pigment cells may account for the temporary improvement that was clinically noted.

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