You may have normal moles that differ in size, shape, and color. Some may have hair. They may change appearance slowly over time or even disappear entirely. Moles can appear anywhere on the skin: on your scalp, between your fingers and toes, on the soles of your feet or palms of your hands, even under your nails.
Characteristics of normal moles:
- A single color. Brown is most common, but moles may be tan, black, red, pink, blue, or skin tone
- Flat or slightly raised
- Consistent in appearance from month to month
Also known as atypical nevi or dysplastic nevi, these moles may appear anywhere on the body— often on the torso, scalp, head, and neck but rarely on the face.
Characteristics of atypical moles:
- More than one color
- Asymmetrical shape
- Larger than 1/4 inch in diameter
Melanoma Risk Individuals
Although benign, atypical moles indicate an increased risk of developing the skin cancer melanoma. You have a greater chance of developing melanoma at an early age if you have:
- Have four or more atypical moles
- A personal or immediate family history of melanoma
Atypical Mole Syndrome
For some people, the number and characteristics of their moles make them at exceptionally high risk of developing melanoma. These patients have:
- 100 or more moles
- One or more moles 1/3 inch in diameter or larger
- One or more atypical moles
Not all moles need treatment. If you think a mole is unsightly or uncomfortable, or if we suspect the possibility of skin cancer, we can remove the mole in one of two ways:
- Surgical shave After numbing the area, the doctor uses a small blade to cut around and under the mole. This procedure is usually performed on smaller moles and does not require sutures.
- Surgical excision The doctor removes the mole and some surrounding tissue with a scalpel
or punch device, then closes the incision with sutures.
If a mole grows back, it could be a sign of skin cancer. Make an appointment with us immediately.
Whether or not your moles put you in a high-risk category for skin cancer, you should practice responsible sun protection and early skin cancer detection techniques.
Annual Cancer Screening
Have us perform a professional, full-body skin cancer screening at least once a year. Make your appointment now.
Examine your skin at least once a month. If you see a new, rapidly growing spot or a growth that is changing rapidly, itching, or bleeding for two weeks, call us immediately. Get a free self-exam worksheet.
Protect your skin from UVA/UVB rays anytime you’re outdoors.
- Apply sunscreen
Be sure to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher. Reapply sunscreen every two hours or after swimming or sweating.
- Wear sun protective clothing
Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sun-protective clothing, and plan to enjoy the outdoors during non-peak sunlight hours
- Avoid peak sunlight hours
Plan to enjoy the outdoors during non-peak sunlight hours (before 10 a.m. and after 2 p.m.).
- Avoid tanning beds
Avoid tanning beds, which can cause premature aging and skin cancer
– Lane Myers