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Melanocytic nevi that are present at birth or that develop during the first year of life are called congenital melanocytic nevi.  While most congenital melanocytic nevi are small, some may be very large.  Most congenital melanocytic nevi will grow as your child grows.

  • Congenital melanocytic nevi that are smaller than 1.5 cm in greatest diameter are called small congenital melanocytic nevi

  • Those that are between 1.5 cm and 20 cm in greatest diameter are called intermediate congenital melanocytic nevi

  • Those that are greater than 20 cm in greatest diameter are called large congenital melanocytic nevi

Can congenital melanocytic nevi turn into skin cancer?

  • Children and adults with large congenital nevi have an increased risk of developing melanoma, a kind of skin cancer, which may be as high as 5% over a person’s lifetime

  • The exact risk of melanoma in children and adults with small and intermediate congenital melanocytic nevi is not known but is believed to be much less than 1%. This risk is very small in childhood but increases with age

Should congenital melanocytic nevi be removed?

Most congenital melanocytic nevi do not need to be removed. If you are concerned about the appearance of the congenital melanocytic nevus or about the small risk of melanoma, the congenital melanocytic nevi may be removed surgically by your dermatologist or by a plastic surgeon. Although removing the congenital melanocytic nevus will greatly reduce the chance of melanoma, it will leave a permanent scar, and this must be considered when deciding whether or not to remove it. There are no lasers or other non-surgical treatments that can be safely used to remove melanocytic nevi. For as long as the congenital nevus is present, it should be monitored for a change in appearance or symptoms such as pain or bleeding.