Everything You Should Know About Moles

Everything You Should Know About Moles

Last update: 12 June, 2015

Many people have moles on their skin and normally they are harmless. Moles are simply small marks that appear on the skin and are formed due to the action of cells when they produce a skin pigment called melanocytes. Most people develop moles throughout their childhood and adolescence. Sometimes they can be birthmarks, which can look flat or swollen and smooth or rough in texture. Moles can sometimes even be the same colour as the rest of your skin. Read on to find out everything you should know about moles and learn the warning signs that could signify a potentially dangerous mole.

Regular moles

Most people’s moles are not at all dangerous and are simply discolourations of the skin. There is normally no need to do anything to the moles or remove them. Some people even like their moles and throughout history women have often drawn on a fake mole as a ‘beauty spot’. Nearly everyone has at least one mole but they can be more noticeable on some people than others due to their skin colour. The most important thing to look out for is if your mole changes in shape, size or colour or if it becomes painful, bleeds or itches. If you are concerned about any moles you should have them checked out immediately by a dermatologist.

Atypical moles


Most moles are small but some moles can be large, such as dysplastic nevi or atypical moles. These types of moles are bigger than regular moles and can reach over a centimetre in diameter. The colour of moles is usually a mid-brown but this can also change with colour variations including light brown, almost black and a pink, shaded background with a darker projection in the centre. Atypical moles are common on areas of the body which are usually covered up by clothes.

Atypical moles can continue forming throughout a person’s life so older people can have many moles, even over one hundred. Atypical moles are hereditary and so if your parents have them you are much more likely to also have many moles. It is important for people with lots of moles, especially atypical moles, to wear sunscreen all year round to protect their skin.

How to spot an abnormal mole

Although most moles are not dangerous, some moles can be a sign of skin cancer. It is therefore vital that we learn the difference between benign moles and potentially dangerous moles or melanomas. We should all examine our skin frequently so we can look for signs of change in our skin. It is easy to do this if it becomes part of our routine, such as during a shower or while getting undressed at night. Take the time to examine your moles and ensure they have not changed. It might even be useful to keep a photo record if you have a lot of moles on your body. This way you can check easily by comparing photos every month for signs of change.


Some of the warning signs for melanoma include asymmetry, where the two halves of the mole are different from each other. These moles can vary in texture, colour and thickness. Another suspicious sign is irregular edges around a mole which are indistinct and ragged without a defined shape. A mole that is not all the same colour is also potentially abnormal. Melanomas can be any size but are often larger than normal moles and if a mole is growing in size that is also a strong warning sign.

If you are suspicious of any mole due to these signs or others you should see a doctor immediately. One of the most important things about skin cancer is to diagnose it early and quickly so that treatment can be started immediately if there is a problem. Prevention is always the best measure so make sure to always wear sunscreen and keep a close check on any moles in order to monitor them. Be wary if the mole changes in any way, grows or become itchy.