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Dr. Andrew Rynne
MD
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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What is meant by sebaceous nevus in a baby?

My newborn daughter appears to have a pale and slightly pink, bumpy hairless patch near the crown of her scalp. While in the hospital the Pediatrician didn t mention anything about it so I assumed it was eczema or something of that nature. We had a hospital f/u appointment today with a different Pediatrician who again did not mention anything about it until I brought it up. He basically said not to worry about it and that they ll check it again in 2 weeks; that it may be gone by then. If not, he said it could be a sebaceous nevus, a type of birthmark that had been linked to cancer (although it is not as serious as once was believed). He basically told me not to look it up online because what I would find might scare me. Of course, once you say the word cancer to a new mother you can expect them to do just the opposite for fear of their baby s life. What I found online was alarming...developmental delays, CNS abnormalities and mental retardation. My questions are: What really is sebaceous nevus? How dangerous is it? Are all cases linked to mental retardation, developmental delays, etc? Is there a cure/treatment? Should I be worried and scared or is this something that is harmless and can removed rather easily? With no information given to me, you can imagine the stress I ll endure over the next 2 weeks until we see the doctor again. 4 days post-partum and my emotions are already on overload. Any help/advice would be greatly appreciated. I can email a picture if necessary. Thank you.
Tue, 14 Jul 2020
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Pediatrician 's  Response
Hello,

A sebaceous nevus is benign - meaning not cancerous. Although uncommon, they are not rare. Most pediatricians have patients with a sebaceous nevus. Nevus is the word for birthmark, sebaceous refers to a type of skin cell or gland that make it waxy or yellow/tan in color and not a place where hair cells can grow well. Most pediatricians know that skin findings can change over the first few months of life, even when the textbooks say they don't! So it's hard to make a 100% correct diagnosis so early. What to expect?

Most don't sebaceous nevi don't change much. Sometimes they get larger or more textured with puberty. Some dermatologists think it best to remove them after puberty for best skin result. In my experience, most families have forgotten about it by then. Like most medical conditions, there are related things that are even more rare - like sebaceous nevus syndrome, when a baby has a specific looking linear sebaceous nevus and bone and brain defects - which are significant and not a mystery. Your baby doesn't have these. I would be no more worried about cancer in your daughter than I am every baby and person with skin who might grow up to have skin cancer due to sun damage.

Take care. Hope I have answered your question. Let me know if I can assist you further.

Regards,
Dr. Lisa Baker, Pediatrician
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Recent questions on Nevus


What is meant by sebaceous nevus in a baby?

Hello, A sebaceous nevus is benign - meaning not cancerous. Although uncommon, they are not rare. Most pediatricians have patients with a sebaceous nevus. Nevus is the word for birthmark, sebaceous refers to a type of skin cell or gland that make it waxy or yellow/tan in color and not a place where hair cells can grow well. Most pediatricians know that skin findings can change over the first few months of life, even when the textbooks say they don t! So it s hard to make a 100% correct diagnosis so early. What to expect? Most don t sebaceous nevi don t change much. Sometimes they get larger or more textured with puberty. Some dermatologists think it best to remove them after puberty for best skin result. In my experience, most families have forgotten about it by then. Like most medical conditions, there are related things that are even more rare - like sebaceous nevus syndrome, when a baby has a specific looking linear sebaceous nevus and bone and brain defects - which are significant and not a mystery. Your baby doesn t have these. I would be no more worried about cancer in your daughter than I am every baby and person with skin who might grow up to have skin cancer due to sun damage. Take care. Hope I have answered your question. Let me know if I can assist you further. Regards, Dr. Lisa Baker, Pediatrician