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Nevus Of Ota

Nevus Of Ota

Nevus Of Ota

Oculodermal melanocytosis, also known as nevus of Ota, is characterized by excessive pigmentation of the skin around the eye and on the forehead, and sometimes in the eye itself. Individuals with nevus of Ota have an increased risk of developing glaucoma and malignant cutaneous or ocular melanoma, a form of skin cancer. Approximately half of all cases of nevus of Ota are present at birth, while the remaining cases usually develop during adolescence. Our Gainesville dermatology practice offers innovative therapies and skin treatments for nevus of Ota in our state-of-the-art facility. Contact Gainesville Dermatology & Skin Surgery to book an appointment and learn about our available treatments.

What Is Nevus Of Ota?

Nevus of Ota is a condition where hyperpigmentation develops in or around the eye, forehead, and upper face. Hyperpigmentation describes skin that appears darker than the surrounding skin, and it can occur in small patches, cover large areas, or affect the entire body. In nevus of Ota, hyperpigmentation causes brown or blue pigmentation around the eye and occasionally on the whites of the eyes. Nevus of Ota may also be present on the forehead, nose, and cheeks. For half of those with this condition, oculodermal melanocytosis is present at birth, while others develop this during adolescence. Nevus of Ota is a type of dermal melanocytosis hamartoma characterized by increased melanin-producing cells, or melanocytes, in the skin tissues.

What Are The Symptoms Of Nevus Of Ota?

Nevus of Ota usually presents unilaterally (involves only one side of the face, but it can present on both sides of the face, referred to as nevus of Hori. The associated hyperpigmentation of facial skin around the eyes, nose, forehead, and face typically appears blue-gray or brown. Individuals with nevus of Ota may develop facial hyperpigmentation, including the following.

  • Eyelids
  • Around the eyes 
  • Nose
  • Forehead
  • Cheeks
  • Sides of the face
  • Whites of the eyes
  • Irises

Hyperpigmentation from nevus of Ota and Itos appears on areas of the face controlled by the trigeminal nerve, located on the sides of the face, and is responsible for the face’s sensation. When hyperpigmentation affects the eyes themselves, the nevus of Ota can result in the thickening of the eye tissues in and around the eyes. This form of dermal melanocytosis can appear light during childhood, darkening and growing over time. The color of the hyperpigmentation may vary based on hormonal factors, weather conditions, or illnesses. 

In patients with nevus of Ota, hyperpigmented areas can expand or appear gradually over an extended time. Yet, the hyperpigmentation doesn’t spread to areas not controlled by the trigeminal nerve. Additionally, hyperpigmentation can also darken with exposure to sunlight over time. The condition is not contagious. Most often, hyperpigmentation occurs on only one side of the face, though it may occur on both sides of the face. A similar condition, nevus of Ito, shares similar characteristics to nevus of Ota, but it appears on the shoulder and sides of the neck.

What Causes Nevus Of Ota?

At this time, no definitive research has concluded the cause of nevus of Ota. However, some researchers and physicians believe this condition may be caused by a genetic mutation, while others believe the cause may be related to hormones or radiation. Additional research is required to confirm these theories. 

How Is Nevus Of Ota Diagnosed?

If you have hyperpigmentation on the skin near or around your eyes, it’s important to consult a board-certified dermatologist to obtain an appropriate diagnosis. During your appointment with one of our dermatologists, your provider will examine your skin, paying special attention to any discoloration. The diagnosis of nevus of Ota is generally made on appearance alone, though your dermatologist may also take a small skin biopsy of the affected area to confirm the presence of many heavily-pigmented melanocytes, which will allow them to diagnose dermal melanocytosis. 

If you have hyperpigmentation on areas other than your face, your dermatologist may investigate further before providing you with a definitive diagnosis. Other diagnoses may include nevus of Ito (hyperpigmentation of the arms, underarms, neck, and shoulders), nevus of Hori (nevus of Ota, which affects both sides of the face), and other forms of dermal melanocytosis that develop in other locations of the body. In addition, your dermatologist will observe your skin for unusual moles or birthmarks. Nevus of Ota is not the only cause of hyperpigmentation on facial skin. Melasma, photodamage, erythema, and trauma to the skin can all result in hyperpigmentation.

How Do You Treat Nevus Of Ota?

Most people with nevus of Ota have no subsequent related problems. Nevus of Ota is typically benign. However, some people with this condition may seek treatment to remove their hyperpigmentation for cosmetic reasons. Patients have several options for their nevus of Ota treatment, including nevus of Ota laser treatment. Your dermatologist will help you determine the best treatment or series of treatments for your goals. For more information about the following treatments and to discuss your options, please contact Gainesville Dermatology & Skin Surgery.

Laser treatments are often the most effective corrective approach to nevus of Ota removal, though patients may require several sessions with multiple approaches and applications. Laser treatments work to destroy melanocytes that cause hyperpigmentation, with the primary goal of restoring the affected skin to its natural pigment. It’s not uncommon for hyperpigmentation to return after the patient receives treatment. Individuals with nevus of Ota may cover their hyperpigmentation with makeup and topical concealing agents, such as foundation, concealer, or other color-correcting products.

Can Nevus Of Ota Cause Complications?

Individuals with nevus of Ota that extends into their eye have a higher likelihood of developing glaucoma, possibly due to the melanocytes that cause the hyperpigmentation blocking the flow of natural fluids in the eyes, which raises the degree of eye pressure. If your nevus of Ota affects your eyes, you should visit your eye doctor regularly for checkups. Additionally, nevus of Ota may lead to malignant melanoma, which can be life-threatening if not treated. Visit your dermatologist at least once a year for skin cancer checks. Schedule an appointment today!

What Is The Outlook For Nevus Of Ota?

If a patient desires it, their nevus of Ota can sometimes be treated. Without treatment, nevus of Ota generally remains unchanged from its original appearance throughout your life. The lesions may darken over time as a result of accumulated sun exposure. Nevus of Ota is benign, aside from its physical appearance. However, if you have nevus of Ota, you should visit your dermatologist and optometrist regularly for glaucoma and malignant melanoma screenings, as your risk of developing these conditions is higher than those who do not have nevus of Ota.