Moles 101

Made up of melanocyte cells and mostly harmless, moles vary in color, shape, and size. Most moles develop from birth to the age of 30, and if moles are common in your family, you are likely to have and develop moles. If you have a lot of small moles, you may have spent a lot of time in the sun. Aging, teenage years, and pregnancy can sometimes cause moles to change in appearance or number due to hormonal changes. And EVERYONE has moles! Here are some mole types and things to look for when checking your skin.

  • Blue Naevi: Rarer, dark blue
  • Compound Melanocytic Naevi: Common, generally light brown, raised, and sometimes hairy
  • Dermal Melanocytic Naevi: Common, generally pale, raised, and sometimes hairy
  • Dysplastic or Atypical Naevi: Rarer, slightly larger, range of colors, bumpy or flat
  • Halo Naevi: Rarer, has a white ring surrounding it
  • Junctional Melanocytic Naevi: Common, generally brown, flat, and round

Because in rare cases moles can develop into melanoma, an aggressive form of skin cancer, it’s a good idea to regularly check your moles for any noticeable changes. Some people use the ABCDE method when checking moles. ABCDE stands for asymmetry, border irregularity, color change, diameter, and elevated. Some things to take note of include…

  • Moles that bleed or itch
  • Moles with an uneven edge
  • Moles with multiple shades of coloring
  • Moles that grow in size, especially larger than the width of a pencil

While it’s not guaranteed that your moles will not develop into melanoma (a dark, fast growing spot or a mole that changes in appearance or behavior), there are some things you can do to help prevent melanoma.

  • Apply SPF15 or higher sunscreen
  • Avoid the sun between 11am and 3pm, when the sun is at its strongest
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat, clothes that cover your body, and sunglasses

If you’re concerned about any moles you have, you should make an appointment to see your doctor.