Nevus comedonicus is a skin condition that can be present from birth or from early childhood. This condition can lead to serious cosmetic problems for your child, as well as medical complications. Here are three things parents need to know about nevus comedonicus.
What are the signs of nevus comedonicus?
If your child has nevus comedonicus, you'll notice groupings of slightly-raised, skin-colored papules on their skin. These groupings of papules can range in size significantly; in some cases, they are only a few centimeters wide, while in other cases, half of the body is covered in papules.
These papules have firm, dark plugs of keratin in their centers, which gives them an appearance similar to blackheads. If your child squeezes these papules, the black filling material may come out.
Generally, nevus comedonicus affects the upper body and can be seen on the face, neck, chest, or arms. Other areas of the skin can be affected, though this is less common.
Is it serious?
Nevus comedonicus can cause multiple complications. If the papules develop on a highly-visible part of your child's skin, like their face, they may feel self conscious about their appearance and may be teased by other children. For this reason alone, treatment is desirable, though medical complications can also occur.
If your child squeezes or picks at the papules, secondary inflammatory changes can occur. These changes include the development of more serious skin problems like pustules or abscesses. Pustules are pus-filled blisters on the skin, while abscesses are deep pockets of pus within the skin. Significant scarring can occur as a result of these conditions, so tell your child not to touch the papules.
Can it be treated?
Your child's dermatologist can treat this condition with a variety of medications, including topical retinoids. Topical retinoids reduce the keratinization of the skin cells, and since the black centers of the papules are made of keratin, these creams can successfully clear up the condition. Creams that contain other active ingredients, like tacalcitol, tazarotene, or calcipotriene, can also be used.
Surgery is the next step if creams don't work. Surgery involves excising the affected skin and replacing it with healthy, unaffected skin from other parts of your child's body. This procedure may be performed by your child's dermatologist or a cosmetic surgeon, depending on the extent and location of the papules.
If you think your child has nevus comedonicus, take them to a dermatologist, such as one at a place like the Southwest Dermatology Institute, for an evaluation.