dysplastic nevi grosse pointe dermatology michigan

Dysplastic Nevi, also known as atypical nevi, describes a mole that does not look like a normal mole. A dysplastic nevus may look a bit like a melanoma, but a dysplastic nevus is not a melanoma. It is a benign growth.

Is There an Increased Risk of Getting Skin Cancer?

While dysplastic nevi are benign some people who have these moles have a higher risk of getting melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer. The risk of getting melanoma increases when a person has a lot of dysplastic moles. Also there is increased risk if the person has had a previous melanoma or their first-degree relative (parent, sibling or child) has had a melanoma. If a person has 4 or fewer dysplastic moles and no other risk factors, the increased risk of getting melanoma is small.

What do Displastic Nevi Look Like:

  • A stands for ASYMMETRY; one half is unlike the other
  • B stands for BORDER; irregular, scalloped or poorly defined border
  • C stands for COLOR; varied shades of tan and brown, black and less commonly white, red or blue
  • D stands for DIAMETER; greater than 6 mm
  • E stands for EVOLVING; a mole that looks different than the rest

WHERE AND WHEN DO DYSPLASTIC NEVI APPEAR: These moles usually begin to appear around puberty but may start in adulthood. They can appear anywhere but are most common on the trunk.

IS TREATMENT NECESSARY: A dysplastic nevus does not always need to be treated. If the dermatologist suspects that a dysplastic mole may be a melanoma the mole should be removed and examined under the microscope. A mole that changes or is suspicious may be removed out of caution.


  • Sun exposure is the most preventable risk factor for atypical moles and skin cancer.
  • Apply generous amounts of a broad-spectrum water-resistant sunscreen with and SPF 30 or more. Re-apply every two hours.
  • Wear protective clothing
  • Seek shade. The sun’s rays are strongest between 10am and 4 pm.
  • Protect children with sunscreen, shade seeking and protective clothing.
  • Avoid tanning booths
  • Check your birthday suit on your birthday! An yearly skin exam by a dermatologist can catch problems early. Skin cancer is very treatable when caught early.