What is a mole or nevus?
A common mole is a growth on the skin that develops when pigment cells (melanocytes) grow in clusters. Most adults have between 10 and 40 common moles. These growths are usually found above the waist on areas exposed to the sun. They are seldom found on the scalp, breast, or buttocks.
Although common moles may be present at birth, they usually appear later in childhood. Most people continue to develop new moles until about age 40. In older people, common moles tend to fade away.
What do I look for?
In general, moles should be round, even-toned uniform spots on an individual person. The moles on a single person are about the same shade of brown. No one mole or lesion should look different from the other ones on that person. Normal moles do NOT hurt, itch, tingle, burn, bleed, ooze or scale. Some normal moles start out flat and dark brown when you are young and then over the years, raise up slightly and lose their color.
When should I check?
Watch your moles at one month intervals.
What do I look for?
Watch for signs of abnormal moles including:
- Asymmetry – the mole is darker on one side or larger on one side.
- Borders – the mole is irregular at the edges and looks like it is growing in a funny shape.
- Colors – the mole is more than one color and has irregular patterns of colors.
- Diameter – the mole is bigger than 6mm or bigger than the size of a pencil eraser. Some moles may be larger but should be stable and not growing in size.
- Evolution – the mole is changing over the time you are watching it.
- "Foreign" – the mole just does not belong with the other moles because it looks very different.
- Other – the mole is hurting, itching, tingling, burning, bleeding, oozing or scaling. There may be color is spreading outward or development of new bumps within it. Some melanomas are just red without brown colors.
If any mole or lesion is concerning, please contact My Dermatologist to set up an evaluation at: