DermNet NZ

Facts about the skin from DermNet New Zealand Trust. Topic index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Becker naevus

A Becker naevus (Becker nevus) is a late-onset epidermal naevus or birthmark occurring mostly in males. It is also known as Becker melanosis. It is due to an overgrowth of the epidermis (upper layers of the skin), pigment cells (melanocytes) and hair follicles. It develops during childhood or adolescence on the shoulders or upper trunk, occasionally elsewhere.

It is thought that it is due to a gene defect, which has not yet been identified. It may be triggered to develop by circulating androgens (male hormones such as testosterone), which is why it appears in males at puberty.

Features of Becker naevus

A Becker naevus is a large one-sided brown patch, sometimes over half the upper back or chest. After puberty it often becomes darker and quite hairy, a feature also called hypertrichosis. Occasionally acne may develop in the naevus.

Becker naevus Becker naevus Becker naevus
beckers naevus beckers naevus beckers naevus
Acne arising in a
Becker naevus
Becker naevus

Becker naevus syndrome

Rarely, like other birthmarks, there may be some abnormality of underlying tissues derived from the same embryonic cell type, the ectoderm. This is known as the Becker naevus syndrome, a type of epidermal naevus syndrome. These abnormalities may include:

Treatment of Becker naevus

There is no effective treatment for the majority of Becker naevi. However, the dark brown colour is less obvious if the affected area is kept out of the sun so that it doesn't tan.

The excessive hairs can be reduced by repeated treatments with a hair removal laser or by electrolysis. The pigmentation can be reduced by a pigment laser, but this is not always effective and it may also be made worse by laser treatment.

Becker naevus-associated acne can be treated with standard acne therapies, including in severe cases, oral isotretinoin.

Related information


On DermNet NZ:

Other websites:

Author: Vanessa Ngan, staff writer

DermNet NZ does not provide an online consultation service.
If you have any concerns with your skin or its treatment, see a dermatologist for advice.