What Are Moles?

Moles (nevi) are groups of cells naturally occurring on the skin. They can appear anywhere on the body, are usually round or oval-shaped, and can be flat or raised. Made up of clusters of pigmented cells called melanocytes, which give the mole its characteristic color, they can vary from brown, black, and pink to flesh-colored. Congenital nevi (birthmarks) are types of moles present at birth. Other types of moles (acquired nevi) develop throughout youth and young adulthood.

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Who Gets Moles?

Moles are seen on the skin of all people and can appear anywhere on the skin. The average person has between fifty to one hundred moles on their body. Anyone can get moles, but some people are more likely to develop them than others. A combination of genetic and environmental factors generally determines the development of moles. Some factors that increase the risk of developing moles include age, family history, fair skin, sun exposure, hormonal changes, and immunodeficiency.

Melanoma Detection

Most moles are benign (normal/non-cancerous); however, characteristics of a type of skin cancer need to be differentiated if the moles have an unusual appearance. Melanoma often develops in a pre-existing mole that begins to change or a new mole. It is estimated that 20% to 40% of melanomas arise from an atypical mole. This is why you must be familiar with the moles on your body and perform regular self-examinations of your skin. When looking at moles, keep in mind the ABCDs of Melanoma Detection:

  • Asymmetry: If you could fold the lesion in two, the two halves would not match
  • Border: Melanomas often have uneven or blurred borders
  • Color: Melanoma typically is not one solid color; instead, it contains mixed shades of tan, brown, black, red, blue, or white
  • Diameter: While melanomas are typically larger than 6 millimeters (about the size of a pencil eraser) when diagnosed, they can be smaller
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Do You Have a Mole that Concerns You?

If you notice a mole different from others or changes, itches, or bleeds, even if it is smaller than 6 millimeters, you want to see a dermatologist. Although a mole may have some of the characteristics described above, it may not be a melanoma. A biopsy is often necessary to distinguish an atypical mole from a melanoma. Our providers are experts in diagnosing and treating atypical moles and skin cancer. With the latest advancements in skin cancer surgery, our medical providers can effectively remove and biopsy any suspicious moles. Contact the Skin Care Doctors today to schedule an appointment.

Better skin health starts here. Schedule your appointment today.

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