Moles area a very common type of skin growth. So common, in fact, that nearly every adult will have at least a few. Developed in childhood and adolescence, most moles are harmless and do not require treatment. You should pay attention to your moles, however, and watch for any changes as you age. Our dermatologist at Piedmont Plastic Surgery & Dermatology can evaluate your moles to ensure they do not pose a health problem.

What are Moles?

Moles often begin as a dark brown spot and are created when clusters of melanin (skin pigment) form. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the average person has between ten and forty moles. Most moles are brown in color, but they come in all shapes and sizes. They are typically round or oval in shape with a size smaller than the diameter of a pencil eraser. Moles can develop anywhere on the body and can change over the course of a lifetime.

When are Moles Cause for Concern?

When a new mole appears in adulthood or begins to change in shape and size, that’s when it’s time to consult your dermatologist. Changing moles are often the first sign of melanoma and should be examined. There is a general guide (ABCDE) to determining whether your mole is harmless or if you should get it evaluated by our dermatologist.

  • A stands for asymmetrical shape. If one half if your mole is different than the other half, it could be cause for concern.
  • B stands for border. Unhealthy moles have scalloped, uneven, or irregular borders.
  • C stands for color. Your moles should have an even color which doesn’t change over time.
  • D stands for diameter. New moles larger than ¼ inch can raise a red flag.
  • E stands for evolving. If your moles change in shape, size, color, or thickness, or if your mole turns black, this can be a sign that something is awry.

How are Moles Treated?

While most moles do not require treatment, your dermatologist can remove them for cosmetic reasons or to have them sent to a laboratory to ensure they are not cancerous.