Moles, also known as naevi, are a very common type of skin growth often arising during childhood and adolescence. Moles may be flat or raised, and are typically pigmented, but can appear flesh coloured as well.
Moles may develop on any area of the body, including on mucosal surfaces such as in the mouth. Both genetics and sun exposure play a role in the development of moles. Hormonal changes throughout one’s lifetime, for example during pregnancy, may alter their appearance.
Most people have between 10-40 moles on their skin and they may range in colour, texture, shape and size. Moles may be tan, brown, black, pink, red and blue. They may be flat, smooth, or wrinkled.
Most moles are round or oval and measure less than 6 mm (about the size of a pencil eraser). However, some moles can be larger, especially those present at birth.
The majority of moles are benign. Rarely moles may develop into melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer. New and/or changing moles, and moles that develop symptoms such as itching or bleeding may be a sign of melanoma and should be examined by a healthcare professional. When caught early, melanoma is highly treatable.
Treatment of moles may include:
- Sun protection
- Regular skin examinations
- Mole mapping
- Skin biopsy
- Excision removal