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What Is Nevus Anemicus?

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  • Written By: Andy Josiah
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 01 October 2016
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Nevus anemicus is a congenital disorder that is characterized by macules, or flat colored patches of skin, that are differentiated from the rest of the skin by their pale pigmentation. Also, they cannot turn red even when one experiences heat, cold or force to the affected area. Nevus anemicus is an example of a cutaneous condition, a term to categorize conditions that affect or are related to the skin. It is one of the rarer ones, however.

The “nevus” part of the condition’s name refers to the composition of the lesions, which contain nevus cells and are a variant of melanocytes, or melanin-producing cells that determine skin color. They are usually of a sort of bordered circular shape, and may appear by themselves or in patches. Although the lesions can occur in any part of the body, the most common site is the chest.

Nevus anemicus is more severe on people who suffer from neurofibromatosis, which involves the development of potentially dangerous tumors from nerve tissue. It is also associated with abnormal formations of capillaries such as nevus flammeus, or port-wine stain; or phakomatosis pigmentovascularis, which is the combination of port-wine stain with melanocytic nevi. In the worst case scenario, it can mean melanoma, which is the development of malignant tumors from melanocytes.

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The cause of nevus anemicus is attributed to a certain irregularity in the circular system, which triggers heightened sensitivity to “fight or flight” hormones known as catecholamines. This hypersensitivity leads to a narrowing of some blood vessels, thus producing the pale patches. This is a congenital disorder that develops at birth or during a person’s first months or years of life. Nevus anemicus is more frequent in females than in males, and it exhibits no symptoms at all.

The asymptomatic nature of nevus anemicus makes it extremely hard to diagnose or be set apart from similar diseases such as vitiligo. Using diascopy, however, in which a finger or glass slide is pressed to the skin to determine color changes, nevus anemicus can be diagnosed due to its inability to display any such changes. Also, the disorder does not exhibit any loss of melanin.

Physicians usually do not prescribe a treatment for nevus anemicus. Additionally, there are no medications or therapy that exist for the disease. Instead, patients who are worried about their appearance are encouraged to use makeup to cover up the macules. The prognosis is generally excellent.

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