Changes in Skin Moles

Moles are very common among people of all ages and skin colors. Most are benign, causing no reason for alarm. However, some moles can be hiding skin cancer, which is the most common cancer in the U.S. Other moles, though previously benign, may evolve into cancerous lesions over time. It is important to keep an eye on moles and check each of them monthly for changes in color, texture, shape, size, and symmetry. Moles that begin to change, itch, or bleed should be evaluated by a dermatologist immediately.

Everyone has at least a few moles These highly common skin blemishes occur in greatest prevalence among fair and light-skinned people, who can have 20, 30, or even 40 moles without causing concern. The vast majority of moles never cause any complication, so there is no need to worry when one appears. However, it is important to keep an eye on them to ensure they do not begin to show symptoms of something more serious.

You should see your dermatologist at the first sign of any skin changes. If you have never been to a dermatologist, schedule an initial visit, and return each year for an annual exam. Your dermatologist will examine your moles, noting their features. If one or more looks suspicious of malignancy, your doctor may order a biopsy. Chances are your dermatologist will not treat your moles at all unless you are bothered by their cosmetic appearance or when they rub up against your clothing. However, moles that appear cancerous may be removed during a standard office visit.