Smokers melanosis

Smoker's melanosis

Description, Causes and Risk Factors:

Smoker's melanosis is a benign pigmentation of the oral mucosa, predominantly observed on the attached anterior mandibular gingiva and interdental papillae. These macular lesions are independent of genetic factors, therapeutic medication usage, and various systemic disorders. As a group they are often seen after the third decade of life. Due to the onset in adulthood and the progressive darkening, malignant melanoma must be ruled out.

Smoking may cause oral pigmentation in light-skinned individuals and accentuate the pigmentation of dark-skinned patients. There is increased production of melanin, which may provide a biologic defence against the noxious agents present in tobacco smoke. Smoker's melanosis occurs in up to 21.5% of smokers. The intensity of the pigmentation is related to the duration and amount of smoking.

Smoker's melanosis is also likely due to direct effects of tobacco smoke on the oral mucosa. Smoke is thought to cause changes in the mucosa through a combination of physical (heat) and/or chemical (nicotine) effects. Individuals using smokeless tobacco or nicotine-containing gum do not develop this condition.

Smoker's melanosis may be also due to the effects of nicotine on melanocytes located along the basal cells of the lining epithelium of the oral mucosa. Nicotine appears to directly stimulate melanocytes to produce more melanosomes, which results in increased deposition of melanin pigment as basilar melanosis with varying amounts of melanin incontinence.

A study in Sweden showed that 21.5% of smokers and 3% of nonsmokers had lesions that could be classified as smoker's melanosis.

Smoker's melanosis is most evident in whites because of a lack of physiologic pigmentation in the oral mucosa of this population, but some dark-skinned individuals who smoke will have more prominent pigmentation in many oral sites.

Females are affected by smoker's melanosis more than males, which may be explained by the additive effects of estrogen in female smokers. Increases in estrogen levels observed during pregnancy and the use of birth control pills are linked to other hyperpigmentation conditions.


There may be a brownish discoloration of the oral mucosa. In cigarette smokers, most lesions are located on the mandibular anterior gingiva. Pipe smokers more frequently display pigmentation of the buccal mucosa. In people who engage in reverse smoking (i.e., the lit end of a cigarette placed in the oral cavity), pigmentation of the hard palate is common. If the areas become depigmented and erythematous, squamous cell carcinoma has been found in 12% of these patients.


Generally, no laboratory studies are necessary to confirm the diagnosis of smoker's melanosis; clinical impression is usually sufficient, in combination with a history of smoking. If the pigmentation is localized, an ulceration is present or the lesion is elevated, a biopsy is necessary to exclude other pigmented conditions (eg, nevi, melanoma). Although smoker's melanosis is an abnormal deposition of melanin, the lesion itself is not associated with an increased risk of melanoma or carcinoma.


Smoker's melanosis usually disappears within 3 years of smoking cessation. Biopsy should be performed if there is surface elevation or increased pigment intensity or if the pigmentation is in an unexpected site. Routine follow-up care is necessary to ensure that the lesion is slowly disappearing.

NOTE: The above information is for processing purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.

DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Cart Preview

Cheap Drugs May Help Prevent Dementia after a Stroke

Cheap Drugs May Help Prevent Dementia after a Stroke

A new research from the University of Edinburgh, UK, suggests that cheap cilostazol tablets may reduce damage to arteries, which lead to blood clots, resulting in strokes and cognitive decline. The researchers plan to assess the medications’ ability to cut the risk of...

Flavonoids in Fruits and Vegetables May Preserve Lung Function

Flavonoids in Fruits and Vegetables May Preserve Lung Function

A new study from the US discovers that flavonoids, natural compounds found in fruits and vegetables, may help preserve the lung function, which tends to decline with age. For the study, a team of researchers looked at data from 463 adults from Norway and England whose...

Quiz about this article

Please answer on few questions to make our service more useful

Featured Products

Spring is Here: Top 6 Outdoor Sports

Good weather is the best reason to do outdoor sports, which will help not only lose weight, but also will strengthen health. Bicycle The sun dries out the local paths, so you can safely sit on your favorite bike and confidently twist the pedals, where the eyes look....

read more

First Aid in Case of Injuries for Sport and Exercise

First aid for injuries consists of simple rules that need to be clearly implemented. If this is a closed injury, you need to immobilize the injured limb, otherwise the person may lose consciousness from a painful shock. If you need to get to the emergency room...

read more