Moles

What are moles?

Moles are small bumps or areas of a different skin color that can occur on any part of the skin. Most moles are brownish but they can be flesh colored, blue, or black. The color is due to a pigment called melanin in your body’s cells. Most people have at least a few moles.

How do they occur?

Some moles are present at birth. Most appear on the skin during the first 20 years of life, especially during puberty. They happen when skin cells make too much melanin. Why the cells make too much melanin is not known.

Most moles start out as a flat brown or black spot much like a freckle, but they may become raised. Many grow larger and some develop hairs.

Are moles unhealthy?

Most moles are harmless. Rarely, a mole changes and becomes a malignant melanoma. Malignant melanoma is the least common but most dangerous form of skin cancer. Research suggests that malignant melanoma in adults may be related to sunburn in childhood.

How are they treated?

Because most moles are harmless, they usually need no treatment. Some may be removed because you don’t like how they look. Or they may be removed because they are in a place where they get irritated by clothing and cause discomfort. Hairs on moles that are unsightly can be kept trimmed or the hairs can be removed permanently by a dermatologist.

How a noncancerous mole is removed depends on where the mole is and how big it is. You will be given medicine to numb the area before the mole is removed. Some moles can be shaved level with the skin. Especially if the mole is large or may be deep, your Reddy Urgent Care healthcare provider will use a scalpel to make a cut around the mole. The mole and skin can be lifted up and cut away from the rest of the skin. The cut will be closed with stitches. This method is the one that’s used if there’s any concern that the mole might have cancerous cells. The mole can be sent to the lab to be checked for cancer.

Moles found to be malignant melanomas are removed surgically. The surgery may be followed with radiation therapy or anticancer drugs.

What changes in moles should I watch for?

You should have your healthcare provider check any change you notice in a mole. In particular, watch for:

  • Moles that appear in large numbers (greater than 100).  

  • A change in size (especially if the mole spreads and becomes broader).  

  • A change in border (the outline of the mole becomes irregular).  

  • A change in shape in which one half of the mole no longer matches the other half.  

  • A change in color or different shades of color appearing in the same mole.  

  • A change in surface appearance (for example, the mole begins to scale, crust, ooze, or bleed).