What are moles?

Moles are common spots on the skin, which usually look like large freckles. They can be flesh-coloured or brown/black in colour. Moles can appear at any age, or a person can be born with them.

They are also known as melanocytic or pigmented naevi.

What do moles look like?

Where are moles found?

Moles can be found on any part of the body.

Are moles cancerous?

Not usually. Most moles are harmless. However some have a slight risk of becoming cancerous.

Moles which have an increased likelihood of becoming cancerous are called dysplastic naevi. They are usually larger in size than most moles, with irregular colouring. Their border may not be as well defined as a normal mole. If you have a mole which fits this description, seek medical advice.

Moles which are present at birth (congenital pigmented naevi) sometimes have an increased chance of becoming cancerous too.

However whether you are born with moles, or they develop over time, you should check them regularly for any changes in colour or shape. If you have moles in an awkward place which makes them difficult to check, get somebody else to do it for you. If you notice changes in any of your moles, or if your mole starts to bleed, visit a doctor immediately.

Also make sure to take adequate precaution in the sun, as over-exposure can result in skin cancer.

When checking your moles, remember the letters A, B, C, and D.

Are freckles the same as moles?

No. Freckles are small tan or brown spots which develop on the skin after repeated exposure to sunlight. They are most commonly found in people with fair complexions, and tend to be darker and more numerous during the summer. They are not dangerous, but can be seen as a warning to people that they are vulnerable to sunburn.

When is the removal of moles required?

As most moles are harmless, they never need to be treated. However there are some cases in which removal may be necessary:

Is it normal to have a hairy mole?

Yes. Many people have hair growing out of their moles. While you should regularly check your moles for any changes in shape or colour, the growth of hair is nothing to worry about.

If the hair is unsightly, for example, if it is on a mole on the face, you may wish to have it removed. Many people in this position simply pluck the hair. If you have any queries or concerns, consult a doctor or dermatologist.

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