Health26 Feb 2010 03:49 pm
A Giant hairy nevus, also known as a Giant congenital nevus, is a dark colored and often-hairy patch of skin that is present at birth. They are commonly found on the upper or lower parts of the back or the abdomen, but they may also be found on the arms, legs palms, soles, and even the mucous membranes or mouth. While doctors know that they result from a proliferation of benign melanocytes in the dermis, epidermis, or both, the etiology of the condition remains unknown.
Smaller in infants and children, the nevus continues to grow along with the child if it is not removed during infancy, and it usually measures larger than 8 inches by the time it stops growing. As a nevus matures, it often becomes markedly thicker and elevated. To make matters worse for an unfortunate nevus bearer, prominent dark hairs usually sprout out of the cursed eyesore at the onset of puberty. It also may develop variations in color, and the surface may become mottled with additional growths. In sum, a giant hairy nevus screams, “Look at me World!” despite every effort of the part of the world to avoid doing so. The conventional horrors of adolescence- complete with acne, greasy hair, braces and mood swings- suddenly look like something to be grateful for.
Surgical excision is the standard of care for the removal of a giant hairy nevus (the earlier the surgery is performed, the better are the results, starting at 6 months old). Moreover, congenital nevi are not merely a source of psychological torment for those who suffer from the condition; they also carry a high premalignant potential for melanoma. After the excision of a giant hairy nevus (which sometimes involves several surgeries if it is HUGE), lasers and dermabrasion is often used to improve the appearance of the skin and help alleviate the inevitable scarring.
Skin grafting is also necessary in instances where the nevus is extremely deep and or large. However, doctors caution that these techniques may only remove the visible portion of the nevi, and may make it harder to detect skin cancer. Thus, an important part of follow-up treatment involves frequent examinations to check for signs of melanoma in the affected area(s).
Unsurprisingly, psychological counseling is also urged to help sufferers cope with the emotional impact of having a disfiguring disorder.
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