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Nevus Of OTA- Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, and More!

by Dr. Joe Morales

If you have developed hyperpigmentation near or in your eyes, you might have come across the term “nevus of OTA”.

Nevus of Ota is a special condition in which hyperpigmentation happens nearby the eye and sometimes within the eye itself. Hyperpigmentation occurs when some of the patches of skin are slightly darker than the skin surrounding this region.

Nevus of Ota is also referred to as oculodermal melanocytosis. It is a kind of dermal melanocytic hamartoma, which infers there are an expanded number of cells called melanocytes or also known as melanin-producing cells, in your tissues.

In this article, you will learn more about Nevus Of OTA, treatment, causes, and symptoms of this condition.

Nevus of OTA

What is Nevus Of OTA?

Nevus of Ota is a class of dermal melanocytosis (extra melanocytes in your tissues) that leads to the hyperpigmentation of your eye and the region surrounding it. It usually takes the appearance of bluish or brownish color near the eye, this pigment or color might also sometimes appear inside your eyes.

Some people might also encounter nevus of Ota condition on the forehead, cheeks, and nose. Other people may experience this in the whites within their eyes. It is determined that nearly 50 percent of all instances of nevus of Ota are usually existing at birth, while the remaining usually originate during adolescence.

Now that you have a slight idea of what is nevus of Ota, have a look at symptoms, treatments, and causes of the disease.

Symptoms of nevus of OTA

Nevus of Ota is normally unilateral, indicating that it ordinarily affects only one side of a person’s face. In rare cases, it could exhibit bilaterally on either side of the face. If this happens, this condition is known as the nevus of Hori.

The hyperpigmentation of your skin around the eyes and on your face normally resembles to be brown or blue-grey in hue. People having nevus of Ota might undergo hyperpigmentation on following areas of the face:

  • whites of the eyes
  • irises
  • cheeks
  • side of the face
  • nose
  • forehead
  • eyelids
  • the area around the eye

Hyperpigmentation causes as a result of nevus of Ota appear only in the regions controlled by a nerve called the trigeminal nerve. Not many people know about this nerve. It is located in the sides of your face and is accountable for the sensations and feelings in the face. 

Nevus of OTA affecting the eyes can even cause thickening of the tissues around the eyes and inside of them. Although these forms of melanocytes might appear to be light and insignificant during your childhood, as a person matures, it can grow and become dark. Its color might also slightly differ depend upon few factors like illness, hormones, and weather conditions. 

Regions on the face of hyperpigmentation might appear and grow gradually over a while. However, you must know that these conditions des not spread throughout your face. It will only show its effect in the area controlled by the trigeminal nerve in your face and it’s not contagious, which means it does not spread from person to person. 

All these things being said, what are the reasons that cause the appearance of nevus of OTA on your face? If you are wondering a lot and concerned about the causes, here are some things you must find out. 

Causes of nevus of ota

Currently, all the research performed on this condition has not yet determined the root cause that leads to nevus of OTA. However, some researchers believe that it can be a result of some genetic mutation. Other people argue that it happens due to hormonal factors and radiation. More research is needed to confirm all these statements and find out the definitive causes of this condition. 


This condition is highly common in females and found more in females as compared to men of the same age group. The ratio from female to male in terms of nevus of OTA is 5:1. With this, you can estimate the numbers pretty well. It also occurs commonly in people of African and Asian descent. However, this condition can be seen in all skin types and people having different skin pigmentations irrespective of their origin. 

White people are less likely to develop nevus of OTA. Despite this fact, they are most likely to develop malignant melanoma which is associated with nevus of OTA.

Even if you have this condition, how do you find out if it’s not some allergic reactions, injury, or nevus of OTA? Diagnosis is highly important. Here’s what you need to know.

Diagnosis for nevus of OTA?

If you are facing hyperpigmentation on your skin surrounding the eyes or inside your eyes, you must visit a doctor and make an appointment for a proper diagnosis. The dermatologists help observe the discoloration. 

While diagnosis for this condition is usually made on your face’s condition and appearance alone by the doctors, they may still perform a small biopsy on your skin to confirm the presence of heavily pigmented melanocytes in many numbers. This helps the doctors to diagnose the dermal melanocytes within your skin.

If the whites of the eyes are also pigmented along with the outer area with a blue-gray color or slate brown color, eye doctors are called to examine your eyes using a biomicroscope. The doctors might even dilate the eyes and examine them using an ophthalmoscope. In a few cases, the ophthalmologist may prefer using ultrasound to investigate the condition further. 

If your skin possesses hyperpigmented cells on other areas of the skin as well besides these regions affected by nevus of OTA, the doctors may want to investigate right away before reaching on to a definite diagnosis procedure.

Some other diagnoses might include the following:

  1. Nevus of ITA, hyperpigmentation of the underarms, neck, and shoulders. 
  2. Nevus of Hori, this condition is identical to nevus of Ota the only difference is that it affects both the eyes.
  3. Other dermal melanocytes forms are present in different locations.

The doctors might preferable also investigate unusual moles on your body including birthmarks. Hyperpigmentation is not always a result of melanocytes. Some medications can also result in abnormal pigmentation of your skin as a side effect. 

If you are experiencing hyperpigmentation of your facial skin, you might also have another condition called melasma which may be caused due to several other factors, this includes:

  1. UV radiations
  2. A functioning thyroid
  3. Therapies or hormonal changes
  4. pregnancy
  5. medications like birth control pills and hormonal contraceptives.

Another condition named erythema might cause benign and darkened skin patches on the upper body. In many cases, a person who has sustained trauma due to burns might also experience hyperpigmentation of the tissues as they heal from inflammation or another injury. 

With so many other conditions and no particular cause found of this condition, you might be thinking about how it can be treated effectively. Let’s find that out and clear things for you!

Treatment of nevus of OTA

The most effective approach used by doctors to treat nevus of OTA is laser treatments. Laser treatment is the most effective approach in correcting nevus of OTA. This treatment might be repeated more than once with multiple applications and approaches. The laser treatments function to destroy and reduce the melanocytes that are responsible for causing bluish-colored hyperpigmentation to return the skin cells to their normal and natural pigments like all other cells.

Laser therapy is more effective in people having lighter skin tones. Know that this procedure might cause certain scarring at the site of treatment. Also, it is not uncommon for that hyperpigmentation to return even after you have gone for several laser treatments. In a few cases, the nevus of OTA returns with a darker color than the previous one.

People having nevus of OTA might prefer covering this appearance hyperpigmentation using cosmetic products rather than going for multiple laser surgeries. Some products you may use include concealer, foundation, and camouflaging creams. There are multiple techniques people use to conceal these lesions. These tricks and techniques are using color-correcting creams, concealing, and contouring. 

There are some other treatments too. Experts have reported that these treatments may cause scarring. These include:

  1. Cryotherapy.
  2. Lasers
  3. Surgery for removing lesions
  4. Chemical peels to lighten the pigmentation
  5. dermabrasion
  6. topical bleaching agents based on hydroquinone.

Pulsed Q-switched lasers are found to be useful at operating nevus of Ota. Such lasers focus on the melanocytes and help neutralize the pigmentation. 

A study involving certain people at a Korean hospital having nevus of Ota determined that Q-switched lasers are a secure and powerful treatment, and they succeeded in vital progress in pigmentation. The pigment was eliminated, and there was a restoration of collagen inside the cells, this is the protein that carries your body together.

Another similar study determined that people who had thriving Q-switched laser treatment normally encountered repigmentation again within a time frame of 2 to 3 years.

After such treatments, be cautious to prevent hyperpigmentation from occurring again. Shun being directly under the sunlight and try to wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen even if you have to stay inside. 

Other Similar Conditions

There are a few other conditions that sometimes are confused with nevus of OTA. These conditions also include hyperpigmentation, these include:

  1. Congenital melanocytes- These are also sometimes known as Mongolian spots. It does not appear on the face typically and the patches often resolve by themselves between three to six years of age. 
  2. Blue nevus- this is a male mole and is blue colored as the name suggests and it may appear anywhere on your skin. It does not change as you age. 
  3. Hori nevus- This is most similar to nevus of Ota but it appears on both sides and not one unline nevus of OTA. 
  4. Melasma- This condition is mostly linked to pregnancy and is sometimes referred to as a “pregnancy mask”. It occurs on both the sides of your face and appears brownish in hue instead of blue color. 

Complications with nevus of OTA

People having this condition extending inside their eyes are likely to develop another condition called glaucoma. Doctors believe that this is due to the melanocytes that cause hyperpigmentation block in the fluids of the eyes thus raising the pressure within the eye. If this condition is affecting your eyes, it is advised to visit a doctor soon for check-ups and determine the root cause and treatment.

Some pieces of evidence suggest that this condition might also lead to malignant melanoma, which might turn out to be deadly if not treated in time. You should visit your doctor twice a year for a checkup of skin cancer.

The Bottom Line

Nevus of Ota might sometimes be treated if the person desires to go through multiple treatments. Without treatment, these pigmented cells or lesions will remain as it is for your entire life. The lesions might also darken as a result of exposure to the sun. 

Besides physical appearance, this condition is benign. However, you must visit your dermatologist and your optometrist frequently to be screened for other symptoms of malignant melanoma and glaucoma, as the risk for these conditions might be higher. 

This was everything important about Nevus Of Ota. If you have any questions regarding this condition or are confused with other related conditions, you must visit a dermatologist to determine a proper diagnosis procedure. 


  1. https://www.scielo.br/j/rbof/a/t6zfpcQFcMZLtCyRGdnQTNq/?format=pdf&lang=en
  2. https://anndermatol.org/DOIx.php?id=10.5021/ad.2017.29.4.446
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nevus_of_Ota

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