Background The differential diagnosis between Reed nevi and melanoma becomes more difficult if the lesion to analyse presents a small size, with a diameter of 6 mm or smaller. Many studies have reported various dermoscopic features of Reed nevi during their growth phases. In early stages of evolution, the lesions generally show a characteristic globular appearance typically found in childhood, followed by the so-called starburst pattern.
Objective The aim of the study was to identify the main dermoscopic features in small Reed nevi (<6 mm in size).
Methods Using a computerized skin-imaging database for melanoma prevention surgery at the Department of Dermatology of the University of Florence, 15 Reed nevi were selected among 103 small (<6 mm) melanocytic lesions consecutively excised. Images of small Reed nevi, independently blinded to histopathological diagnosis, were administered to a dermatologist expert in dermoscopy, who separately examined the clinical and the dermatoscopic images of small Reed nevi and evaluated their clinical and dermoscopic parameters.
Results Analysis of the main dermoscopic patterns showed that 40% had a reticular pattern, 20% had a starburst pattern, 6.5% had a globular pattern, 6.5% had a homogeneous pattern and 27% had an atypical pattern.
Conclusion We propose that small, early-stage Reed nevus are not characterized by an evolution of growth patterns to a phenotype typical of larger lesions. We assume that the patterns are distributed in a linear manner between age groups, may all be present at the outset and thus are independent from the various stages of nevus development.