Strawberry Nevus of the Skin (SNS) is a common skin condition which affects 1% of all people at some point in their lives. It is caused by a mutation in the gene that produces melanin, or pigment. Melanin protects our bodies from sunburn and other harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation, but it’s not enough to protect us completely against damage from other sources such as pollution and even cigarette smoke.
Melanin is produced by cells called melanocytes. These are located in the dermis layer of your skin. Melanocytes produce melanin because they need it to make vitamin D, which helps build strong bones and teeth, and keep immune system functioning properly. When these cells stop producing enough melanin, the body begins to suffer damage as a result of lack of protection from UV rays.
The most common symptoms of SNS include:
Redness and/or swelling of the affected area. This may occur anywhere on your body, but tends to affect areas where there is high exposure to sunlight, such as face, arms and hands.
Skin discoloration due to loss of pigmentation in darker spots.
Darker patches of skin becoming lighter with age.
Changes in hair color or growth patterns.
Patches of skin that may become thicker or thinner than the normal surrounding area.
Some people with SNS also experience itching or burning sensations, but this is rare. People who do experience these skin irritations should avoid scratching because it makes the condition worse and could lead to permanent scarring. The first step to diagnosing SNS is a physical examination by a medical professional, such as a dermatologist. If the condition is identified, your doctor will take steps to reprotect your skin from further damage using a combination of sunscreen lotions and protective clothing.
SNS is not dangerous in and of itself, but it can lead to dangerous skin cancer if left untreated. All people who have SNS are at higher risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma (SQCC) and basal cell carcinoma (BCC).
Sources & references used in this article:
The natural history of the strawberry nevus by RE Bowers, EA Graham… – Archives of …, 1960 – jamanetwork.com
Birthmarks and congenital skin lesions in Chinese newborns. by FJ Tsai, CH Tsai – Journal of the Formosan Medical …, 1993 – ohsu.pure.elsevier.com
Diagnosis of vascular skin lesions in children: an audit and review by CC MacFie, SLA Jeffery – Pediatric dermatology, 2008 – Wiley Online Library
Strawberry hemangiomas—the natural history of the untreated lesion by AH Jacobs – California medicine, 1957 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Skin hemangiomas and occult dysraphism by JH Piatt – Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics, 2004 – thejns.org
Statistical survey of skin changes in Japanese neonates by A Hidano, R Purwoko, K Jitsukawa – Pediatric dermatology, 1986 – Wiley Online Library
Cryosurgery: Cryosurgery for Facial Skin Lesions by PJ Leopard – 1975 – journals.sagepub.com
Ultrasonographic screening in infants with isolated spinal strawberry nevi by RM Allen, MA Sandquist, JH Piatt… – Journal of Neurosurgery …, 2003 – thejns.org