Melanocytic nevi, or as patients may more commonly refer to them, “moles,” are a nearly ubiquitous pediatric condition. To avoid unnecessary procedures or worry, pediatricians should be aware of the clinical appearance, natural history, and common types of melanocytic nevi in this population, as well as truly concerning features of a pigmented nevus that should prompt referral to a dermatologist. This In Brief reviews a few of the most commonly seen melanocytic nevi and clinical features that should prompt referral.

Melanocytes are cells in the basal layer of the skin that produce melanin, the pigment responsible for an individual’s skin tone. Acquired melanocytic nevi are benign proliferations of nevus cells (nests of melanocytes) that develop after birth. These lesions tend to arise in early childhood and increase in number as an individual ages, particularly around puberty (likely due to hormonal influence). They are usually round or oval, well demarcated, and...

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