What Are Skin Moles?

Q:
What are skin moles?

A:
Moles are common spots on the skin. The medical term for moles is melanocytic nevus. Moles may be tan, brown, black, red, purple or skin-colored. They may be flat or raised. Most moles are smaller than a pencil eraser.

Moles can appear at any part of the skin, including the scalp, ears, eyelids, lips, palms, soles, genitals, and anal area.

There are following types of moles:

  • Common moles. They are usually about 5-6 mm in diameter. They have distinct edges, smooth, dome-like surfaces and even pigmentation. In rare cases them may turn into skin cancer.
  • Atypical moles. They usually have fuzzy or blurry border, varied color and are large. Most of them are benign. People with many atypical moles are at an increased risk for skin cancer. They need regular self-examination.
  • Congenital. Congenital moles are present at birth. Therefore, they are also called birthmarks. They vary in size and may turn into melanoma. You shall start monitoring it when you enter adolescence.
  • Acquired. Acquired moles appear during childhood or adulthood. Most of them have no harm. This is the most common kind of moles and is usually caused by sun exposure.
  • Junctional Melanocytic Nevi. They occur from the accumulation of melanocytes. Usually they feature regular border and dark pigmentation. They range in color from tan to dark brown.
  • Intradermal Nevi. They often blend in with surrounding skin. Their pigmentation is not as dark as that of junctional melanocytic nevi. They are very common and usually benign.
  • Compound Nevi. They show signs of both intradermal and junctional nevi. They usually have a central raised area with flat areas around the edges, distinct borders and even pigmentation.
  • Halo Nevi. They have a ring of skin around them that has lost pigmentation. They are benign and generally require no treatment.

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* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.