Spitz naevus

Spitz naevus is a rare type of mole. It is a non cancerous (benign) type of mole. 

What is a Spitz naevus?

A Spitz naevus is a rare type of mole that might have changes that look worrying but is benign Open a glossary item

Spitz naevus mainly occurs in children and young adults, often before the age of 20. They can develop in older people, but it is less common. 

The mole often looks like a small pink round bump, but sometimes the colour can be reddish brown, dark brown, or black. They can develop anywhere on the skin but are most commonly seen on the face or legs.  

You should see your GP if you notice a change in your skin that isn't normal.

Your GP might arrange for you to see a skin specialist called a dermatologist. Your GP or skin specialist is likely to look at your mole using a dermatoscope. A dermatoscope is a handheld instrument, a bit like a magnifying glass. It can make things bigger (magnify) by up to 10 times.

Looking at a mole with a dermatoscope can help doctors decide if a mole needs to be removed.

Photographs of Dermatoscopes

Causes of Spitz naevus

It is not known why some people get Spitz naevus. More research is needed to understand what causes the development of a Spitz naevus.

Treatment for Spits naevus

Your doctor may monitor the area or recommend you have it removed.


Your specialist might recommend monitoring the lesion over time. How frequently you have this can vary from person to person. But you might see your specialist every 3 to 6 months or it may be longer.

It’s important that you see your GP or specialist urgently if you notice any changes in the mole before your next follow up appointment.

It might help to have a photo of the mole. If you can it's a good idea to put a ruler or tape measure next to the area when you take the photo. This gives you a more accurate idea about its size and can help you tell if it's changing. You can then show these pictures to your doctor.

Removing a Spitz naevus

You might have the area removed. For some people, a Spitz naevi can look so much like melanoma or other type of skin cancer that it can be very difficult even for an expert to tell the difference. It is important for your specialist to confirm what it is.

Because of this, doctors often remove a Spitz naevus together with a border of healthy tissue around it. The aim is to ensure the removal of the whole of the lesion for examination by a pathologist Open a glossary item.

Risk factors for melanoma

We can’t say what your individual risk of getting a melanoma or another suspicious mole is likely to be. Certain people are more at risk of developing melanoma. 

These are people who:

  • are fair skinned and blue eyed
  • have lots of freckles
  • have lots of moles (more than 100)
  • tend to burn easily in the sun
  • have a family history of melanoma

Speak to your GP if you have any concerns about your risk of developing melanoma.

Staying safe in the sun

The advice for everyone, children and adults, is to cover up and stay in the shade. If you must go into the sun, wear a sunscreen factor of at least SPF15 and a high star rating of 4 or 5 stars. It’s also important that you put enough on. Most of us don’t wear enough sunscreen to give the full protection claimed by the manufacturers.

Use sunscreen generously, reapply regularly and use it together with shade and clothing.

  • Spitz nevus and atypical Spitz tumors

    UpToDate, Accessed October 2023 

  • Melanoma: Assessment and Management

    National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), 2015. Last updated: 27 July 2022. 

  • Spitz naevus (including pigmented spindle cell naevus of Reed)

    J Bowling

    Primary Care Dermatology Society, last updated, 2021. Accessed October 2023 

  • Meta-analysis of risk factors for cutaneous melanoma: I. Common and atypical naevi

    S Gandini and others

    European Journal of Cancer, 2005. Volume 41

  • Long-term outcome of Spitz-type melanocytic tumors.

    A Sepehr and others

    Archives of Dermatological Research, 2011. Volume 147, Issue 10, Pages 1173-1179

  • Management of Flat Pigmented Spitz and Reed Nevi in Children

    A Lallas and others

    JAMA Dermatolgy,2018. Volume 154, Issue 11, Pages 1353–1354.

Last reviewed: 
17 Oct 2023
Next review due: 
17 Oct 2026

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