What Is ILVEN?
Linear verrucous epidermal nevus (or ILV) is a type of skin cancer that affects the dermis layer of the body. It is characterized by the presence of multiple small tumors located in the dermis. These tumors are often found along with other signs such as pain, redness, swelling or tenderness at the site of lesion. It is usually not life threatening but it may lead to scarring and loss of tissue.
The term “verrucous” in this case indicates that the tumors are wart-like in appearance. This is a subtype of epidermal nevus, which is a general term for a group of birthmarks that typically affect the skin. These skin markings are not dangerous in themselves but sometimes they can develop into a type of skin cancer called melanoma.
ILVEN or inflammatory linear verrucous epidermal nevus is diagnosed by visual inspection. A dermatologist, a medical doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of skin conditions, can usually tell if someone has this condition just by looking at it. A biopsy may be used to determine the presence of cancerous cells but in many cases, the condition is obvious just by looking at the lesion. If there is any doubt, a dermatologist will apply a liquid solution of a substance called methylated spirits to the site of the nevus.
This solution will turn white if the nevus does indeed contain cancerous cells.
The main treatment for this condition is surgical removal by a dermatologist. This effectively removes the affected tissue and prevents the condition from spreading.
Genetic factors may play a role in the development of ILVEN. This skin condition often appears during childhood and it is more likely to affect boys than girls. It often develops in people who have a family history of melanoma or other types of skin cancer. People who have had extensive sun exposure or who have had moles or other areas of skin that have been damaged by the sun, are also at higher risk.
The exact cause of inflammatory linear verrucous epidermal nevus is not known. It is believed to develop from the embryonic layer of skin known as the mesoderm. This layer is believed to give rise to connective tissue as well as certain glands and structures in the body. In people with ILVEN, the mesoderm develops abnormally and gives rise to a tumor-like growth of cells.
These cells tend to develop in a linear pattern instead of spreading throughout the skin.
The only definitive treatment for ILVEN is surgical removal of the affected site. This should be performed by a dermatologist. Smaller lesions can be easily removed in the doctor’s office while more extensive lesions may require a brief hospital stay. Healing should be complete within a few weeks.
There is a chance that the condition may recur after surgery so people who have this condition are often monitored by their dermatologist on a regular basis.
In some cases, the condition may be treated with cryotherapy, liquid nitrogen or cortisone injections. Cortisone is a steroid that discourages the growth of skin tissue. It works by preventing the migration of cells to the area, which prevents the formation of new cells. Liquid nitrogen and cryotherapy both destroy tissue.
These treatments are effective but should only be performed by a medical doctor.
The only sure way to prevent this condition is to avoid excessive sun exposure and to wear protective clothing and sun block when going outside. It is also important to check your skin on a regular basis for any unusual marks or spots that resemble moles. Any new marks or spots that suddenly appear, regardless of their size or color should be checked out by a dermatologist.
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Sources & references used in this article:
- Inflammatory linear verrucous epidermal nevus (ILVEN) in a mother and her daughter (H Hamm, R Happle, JM Opitz… – American journal of …, 1986 – Wiley Online Library)
- Inflammatory linear verrucous epidermal nevus: association with epidermal nevus syndrome (LE Golitz, WL Weston – Archives of Dermatology, 1979 – jamanetwork.com)
- Inflammatory linear verrucous epidermal naevus (ILVEN) versus linear psoriasis. A clinical, histological and immunohistochemical study. (E De Jong, HF Rulo… – Acta dermato …, 1991 – europepmc.org)
- Inflammatory linear verrucous epidermal nevus (ILVEN) and psoriasis in a child? (S Menni, L Restano, R Gianotti… – International journal of …, 2000 – Wiley Online Library)