Skin nonmelanocytic tumors
Other tumors of skin
White sponge nevus

Author: Christopher Hale, M.D. (see Authors page)

Revised: 5 September 2018, last major update March 2013

Copyright: (c) 2002-2018,, Inc.

PubMed Search: white sponge nevus

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Cite this page: Hale, C. White sponge nevus. website. Accessed February 19th, 2019.
Definition / general
  • Not a melanocytic entity; benign keratinization defect leading to white plaques on mucosa
  • Primarily affects nonkeratinized stratified squamous epithelium
  • First described by Cannon in 1935 (Arch Dermatol Syphilol 1935;31:365)
  • Synonyms: familial white folded mucosal dysplasia, leukoderma exfoliativum mucosae oris, hereditary leukokeratosis
  • Buccal, gingival, esophageal, rectal or genital mucosal surfaces
Clinical features
  • White to gray, diffuse, painless, spongy and folded plaques on buccal mucosa
Case reports
  • No standard treatment; although reports of tetracycline, chlorhexidine
  • Progression usually stops at puberty
  • No malignant transformation
Clinical images

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White plaques on buccal mucosa

White plaques on tongue

Microscopic (histologic) description
  • Parakeratosis, acanthosis with formation of large blunt rete ridges and spongiosis
  • Extensive vacuolation of suprabasal keratinocytes
  • Dyskeratotic cells exhibit dense peri and paranuclear eosinophilic condensations, which correspond to tonofilament aggregates
  • Abundant Odland bodies (keratinosome, membrane bound granule in upper stratum spinosum) within keratinocytes but few are present in the intercellular spaces
Microscopic (histologic) images

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Differential diagnosis