Apart from tanning, sunspots, and freckles, some of the most obvious and commonly observed changes on the skin are moles. Ranging from the most subtle of specks to spots that are a few inches in diameter, moles (also commonly referred to as beauty marks) are hyperpigmented spots on the skin that can develop as early at birth or appear later in life. While most moles are typically harmless, there are also some more serious skin conditions that are visually similar to moles. To learn more about the distinction between the two, read on.
What are moles?
Melanocytic nevi, or moles in simpler terms, are a type of skin growth that are composed of pigment forming cells. When these cells, also referred to as melanocytes, cluster in a specific area, they create a visibly hyperpigmented area that can be identified as a mole. They are usually smaller than 1-2 inches in diameter, appearing as black, brown, flesh-colored or tanned. Some moles are flat on the surface of the skin while some are raised in the areas that are darkest. They can be found in any area of the skin, in visible areas (such as the face, arms, shoulders and legs) or in less visible areas (such as the palms, soles, scalp, and genitals).
Moles are typically harmless, with most moles posing very little risk to a patient’s health especially when they remain unchanged over the years. Some people who are born with moles experience very little changes on the mole’s appearance as they grow older, with the mole retaining its size, shape, and color even later in their lives. However, in some instances, a seemingly harmless mole can indicate something more serious, such as other skin growths or even early onset skin cancer.
There is no specific mole disease attributed to having moles all over a patient’s body, but there are a few that some moles can be mistaken for, so the best course of action would be to consult with a highly qualified and well trained medical professional. Patients should seek medical help especially when they discover new spots on their body that may be visually similar to moles, or when they recognize any sudden changes in an existing mole’s size, shape, or color. Because most moles appear by the time a patient heads into their 30s, any mole that appears after this period may cause complications and might require further medical advice. To learn how to consult with an expert medical professional as early as within the day, learn how EVA works today.
What causes moles, and what are risk factors for developing moles?
The root cause of moles are melanocytes, the cells in the body responsible for the production of pigment, grow in clusters. These melanocytes are responsible for producing melanin, which gives skin its color, and they are found on everyone’s skin. However, the likelihood of them growing in certain areas and forming a mole is dependent on two primary factors.
- Genetics – The genes patients inherit from their family often dictate how likely they are to develop moles, with many developing moles as early as infancy. Patients who have lighter hair colors (such as blond or red hair), lighter eye colors (such as green or blue eyes), and fairer complexions are more likely to develop moles. However, moles can develop on anyone, regardless of their race. If your parents and other members of your family have moles, you are highly likely to have them as well.
- Sun exposure – Upon exposure to the sun and UV rays, the skin produces more melanin as a response to keep the skin from burning. This hyperproduction of melanin can also cause moles to grow in areas that typically get exposed to the sun more regularly. Frequent sun exposure can cause new moles to appear, or make the appearance of already existing moles more apparent.
Moles are highly common and typically non-threatening, but sudden and stark changes on the skin might still be a cause for concern. If you or anyone you know has observed a sudden or changing mole you might be worried about, check out our FAQs to learn about the best and most convenient way to seek help.
Do babies get moles?
Because genetics factor into the production of moles, many people have moles as early as birth or develop moles while they are newborns. Children and adolescents can also develop moles throughout the years, even into young adulthood. Often, moles grow slightly as the person’s body grows. This gradual growth is very rarely a cause of concern, especially for congenital moles or moles that were present at the person’s birth (and most likely formed during their fetal development).
Can I still get new moles as an adult?
While most moles develop in a patient’s early years, many people still develop moles until they reach their 30s. In later life, some adults can often observe some spots on their skin that are visually similar to moles but are actually other harmless skin conditions such as freckles and sunspots. However, the development of new moles or sudden changes in existing moles can sometimes be a cause for concern especially over the age of 30. In this case, patients might require a possible medical evaluation and biopsy to identify the root cause of the sudden change. This requires the help of well trained and highly qualified medical professionals, and our doctors can give you the expert advice you need.
Which skin cancers look like moles?
Of all skin conditions that can be mistaken for moles, skin cancer is one of the most severe and life threatening. While existing moles that remain unchanged are typically harmless, and many opt to undergo mole removal purely for cosmetic purposes, the sudden appearance of new moles or changes in existing ones may be a cause for concern. Moles that are tender, bleeding, itching, or oozing will require medical attention as soon as possible. When examining moles, it may be helpful to keep in mind the following ABCDEs:
- Asymmetry – One side of a mole is disproportionate to the other half
- Border – The border of the moles are irregular or ragged
- Color – The color of the mole is not consistent throughout, or it begins to develop shades of brown, black, white, red, or blue.
- Diameter – The size of the mole is larger than 1 inch in diameter
- Evolution – The mole begins to change in color, size, or shape
If you begin to observe one or a combination of these warning signs, especially in the chest, back, or lower leg area, it may be time to seek medical help as early as possible.
How EVA Teleconsult Can Help with Moles
How EVA Teleconsult Can Help with Moles
With the help of EVA Teleconsult, you can get more information on any sudden changes in moles quickly and conveniently, often as early as within the day. That’s because, with us, our patients always receive:
- Same-day and on-time appointments – Our doctors will never make patients wait, because we understand that their time is valuable.
- Guaranteed 30 minutes of consultation time – We make sure our patients have enough time to ask all their questions so all their concerns are addressed. At the same time, we provide full explanations about their condition so they can make an informed decision about their health.
- Five-star rated doctors – Our patients are frequently so pleased with the care they receive, they can’t help but provide kind feedback about their physicians.
Contact us and receive expert care and advice today.