A mole is a spot on the skin where pigmented cells are clustered together. You may have been born with a few and have gotten more as you got older due to sun exposure. Most adults develop about 10-40 moles until they’re 40 years old. Moles have these characteristics:
- Even color of pink, tan or brown
- Smaller than ¼ inch wide (the width of a pencil eraser)
- Generally round or oval, dome-shaped
- Has a smooth surface with a distinct edge
These types of moles rarely turn into melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer. However, if you have more than 50 moles and/or have close relatives with melanoma, you have an increased chance of developing melanoma.
Like other types of cancers, early detection is important. Make it a habit to inspect your moles regularly for these types of changes:
- Change in color
- Change in size
- Change in shape, texture, or height
- Surface becomes scaly or dry
- Starts to itch, bleed or ooze
See your primary care provider if you find changes in an existing mole or develop a new one.