Moles are common. Almost every adult has a few moles. Adults who have light skin often have more moles. You may have 10 to 50 moles on your skin. This is normal.
You should not be overly worried about your moles. But you should know:
- A type of skin cancer, melanoma, can grow in or near a mole.
- Caught early and treated, melanoma can be cured.
- The first sign of melanoma is often a change to a mole — or a new mole on your skin.
- Checking your skin can help you find melanoma early. A dermatologist can show you how to examine your skin and tell you how often you should check your skin.
Moles in children: What parents should know
Moles on a young child’s skin are generally nothing to worry about. It is normal for new moles to appear during childhood and adolescence. Moles will grow as the child grows. Some moles will darken, and others will lighten. These changes are expected in children and seldom a sign of melanoma — a type of skin cancer that can begin in a mole.
Moles: What to look for
People often want to know how they can tell a mole from a melanoma. As a general rule moles should be uniform in color, round or oval, and have smooth borders. Using the ABCDE’s can help find abnormal moles on your body.
Another important sign to look for is often referred to as the “ugly duckling” sign. This means any mole that stands out or doesn’t resemble other moles on your body may be concerning.
Moles can appear anywhere on the skin. Moles develop on the scalp, between the fingers and toes, on the soles and palms, on the genitals and even under the nails.
If you see a mole or new spot on your skin that has any of the ABCDEs of melanoma, see a dermatologist immediately.
Images property of the American Academy of Dermatology.
Moles: Tips for managing
Dermatologists recommend the following to their patients:
- If you see a mole on your skin that is changing, itching, or bleeding, make an appointment to see a dermatologist. These maybe signs of melanoma, a type of skin cancer. Caught early, melanoma can be cured. Without treatment, melanoma can spread. This can be deadly.
- Perform self-exams of your skin.
- Protect your skin from the sun.
- If you have 100 or more moles, be sure you have a dermatologist.
- Nevus Outreach Inc.: Support and information for people who have large nevi and neurocutaneous melanocytosis (NCM).
- Nevus Network: Support group for people who have congenital nevi.