Identifying and managing naevus dysmorphia in clinical practice

Andrew Affleck, Emma Wray, Zoe Chouliara

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Naevus dysmorphia is a form of appearance concern/body image dissatisfaction, which describes a preoccupation with the appearance of a clinically small melanocytic naevus. The naevus is perceived by the patient to be disfiguring. Such perception leads to maladaptive behaviours and is often associated with low mood, as well as high levels of anxiety and social avoidance. Affected individuals form a diverse group. However, what they have in common is that the distress experienced is disproportionate to the objective visual appearance of the mole. There is a range of severity of the impact on the individual’s well being. Naevus dysmorphia may or may not be a cutaneous manifestation of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). It is essential that patients with naevus dysmorphia are identified and distinguished from patients requesting removal of a mole for other uncomplicated cosmetic reason. Patients with naevus dysmorphia can be challenging to treat and communicate with. Surgical excision of the naevus will not address the underlying psychopathology and so it may not result in long-term positive outcome. Ideally, a detailed psychological assessment and formulation can be made potentially followed by psychological therapy tailored to the needs of the individual. A therapeutic trial of appropriate psychopharmacological course may be indicated in certain cases, e.g., when symptoms of a depressive disorder,anxiety disorder or BDD are present. A case series of 10 patients with naevus dysmorphia is presented, in order to highlight the above issues.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114-119
Number of pages6
JournalWorld Journal of Dermatology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2 May 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Naevus dysmorphia
  • Body dysmorphic disorder
  • Body image dissatisfaction
  • Psychological distress


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