What are Moles?
Moles are collections of pigment producing cells (known as melanocytes) that reside towards the top layer of the skin. Moles generally can be flesh-coloured, brown, blue or black. The majority of moles on skin are flat but raised moles are commonly seen.
Why do Moles occur?
Moles are a natural part of skin development and are influenced by genetics and sun exposure.
When do Moles develop?
Some moles are present at birth.
The majority of moles, however, develop during our childhood and young adulthood. We continue to develop new moles on our skin in our 30's and 40's.
Do Moles change?
Moles are made up of living cells called melanocytes. They may respond to sunlight and UV exposure by producing more melanin, making them darker with sun exposure. They can also respond to hormonal changes in puberty, pregnancy and sometimes hormonal therapy. However these small changes generally apply to all nearby moles at the same time, and are uniform and self-limiting. Seek immediate medical advice if any mole shows individual changes.
When is a Mole cancerous?
A cancerous mole is also known as a melanoma, one of the most aggressive forms of skin cancers. A cancerous mole (melanoma) can arise from a previously "normal" mole or as a new growth on the skin.
What do Moles look like
Moles can develop anywhere on the skin. Their locations can influence their appearance. This is important when trying to differentiate a normal mole from a cancerous mole.
Pictures of Moles
What do I look for in Moles?
Moles are collections of living cells called melanocytes. They can change by increasing their number of cells, therefore enlarging in size, both by width and by height. They can also change by producing more pigment(darker), or by producing pigment abnormally (irregular pigmentation). These changes are suggestive of abnormal growth and may be a result of a melanoma.
I have a lot of Moles. Should I be concerned?
The more moles you have, the higher the risk of melanoma. It means that your melanocytes have the right genetics to grow. It usually also means that your skin may have been exposed to excessive sunlight during the early years. You should avoid excessive sun exposure and in particular sunburn. It may be much harder for you to monitor them by yourself. You may consider attending a qualified doctor regularly for mole checks.
I have noticed a change in a Mole
This is the time to seek an expert opinion on the mole, such as from a skin cancer doctor or a dermatologist. The mole should be examined with a technique called dermoscopy in a comprehensive skin cancer check.