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Blue nevus in Adult
See also in: Hair and Scalp,Oral Mucosal Lesion
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed

Blue nevus in Adult

See also in: Hair and Scalp,Oral Mucosal Lesion
Contributors: William M. Lin MD, Susan Burgin MD, Belinda Tan MD, PhD, Sarah Hocker DO, Lowell A. Goldsmith MD, MPH
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed


Blue nevus (also known as a blue mole) is a type of benign acquired nevus. These small blue-gray or blue-black papules represent an aggregate of melanocytes in the upper and mid-dermis. Blue nevi usually develop in young adulthood and are more common in women and in those of Asian descent, although a recent study suggests that onset in adulthood in men is also seen.

Melanocytes originate embryologically in the neural crest and then migrate to the dermal-epidermal junction or to the hair bulb. Blue nevi are hypothesized to arise from melanocytes that fail to complete their developmental journey and instead reside and proliferate in the dermis. Dermal melanocytes reflect low-wavelength blue light but absorb higher wavelength light, a phenomenon known as the Tyndall effect. This accounts for the characteristic blue hue of the lesion. Somatic mutations in GNAQ mutations have recently been found in the majority of blue nevi.

A variant of blue nevus, the cellular blue nevus, is typically larger (1-3 cm in diameter) than a common blue nevus (<1 cm), solitary, and has a predilection for the buttocks or sacrococcygeal region. Malignant blue nevi are rare and tend to arise in cellular blue nevi, especially those on the scalp. Blue nevi are also one of the most common components of combined nevi. Another variant, the epithelioid blue nevus, may be associated with Carney complex (lentigines, atrial myxoma, mucocutaneous myxoma, and nevi).

Related topic: agminated nevus


D22.9 – Melanocytic nevi, unspecified

254806009 – Blue nevus of skin

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Differential Diagnosis & Pitfalls

  • Traumatic tattoo (eg, from a lead pencil or the mark used to locate radiation therapy fields) are flat and may not be as regular as a blue nevus.
  • Nodular Melanoma
  • Common acquired nevus
  • Venous lake
  • Angiokeratoma – often darker brown / black or with some red coloration
  • Pigmented basal cell carcinoma
  • Nevus of Ota, Nevus of Ito, and Congenital dermal melanocytosis are blue but usually much larger and in characteristic locations.
  • Dermatofibroma – typically skin-colored to hyperpigmented and more firm with a positive dimple sign
  • Glomus tumor – often around the nail
  • Apocrine hidrocystoma – often around the eye

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Last Updated:06/02/2021
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Blue nevus in Adult
See also in: Hair and Scalp,Oral Mucosal Lesion
A medical illustration showing key findings of Blue nevus : Blue color, Hyperpigmented macule, Pigmented papule
Clinical image of Blue nevus - imageId=75840. Click to open in gallery.  caption: 'A close-up of a smooth, violaceous papule.'
A close-up of a smooth, violaceous papule.
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