When to Be Concerned About Moles

Understanding Moles:

In the realm of dermatology, understanding moles is a crucial part of maintaining healthy skin. Moles are often benign, but they can sometimes indicate a more serious condition.

This comprehensive guide will help you differentiate between harmless moles and those that warrant concern.


Moles, medically known as nevi, are a common feature on our skin.

They are formed when melanocytes, the pigment-producing cells in our skin, cluster together. Moles come in various shapes, sizes, and colors, and most are harmless.

However, some moles can be indicative of skin disorders or even skin cancer. It's essential to be able to distinguish between harmless moles and those that might require medical attention.

Characteristics of Normal Moles

Normal moles often share specific characteristics that can help you identify them. These characteristics are:

Size and Shape

Typically, normal moles are small, with a diameter of less than 6 millimeters (about the size of a pencil eraser).

They are usually round or oval in shape and have well-defined borders.


The color of a normal mole is usually uniform, ranging from light pink to dark brown. In some cases, they may have a slightly lighter center with a slightly darker border.


The surface of a normal mole is typically smooth, with a regular texture. It should not be raised, bumpy, or scaly.


Normal moles remain relatively stable over time. They do not change in size, shape, or color. If a mole starts to evolve, it may be a sign of concern.

When to Worry About a Mole

While most moles are benign, there are certain signs and symptoms that should raise red flags and prompt a visit to a dermatologist. These include:


If one half of the mole doesn't match the other in terms of size, shape, or color, it's a cause for concern.

Irregular Borders

Moles with irregular, poorly defined, or jagged borders may be suspicious.

Color Changes

Any significant change in the color of a mole, especially if it becomes darker or develops multiple colors, is a warning sign.


Moles that exceed 6 millimeters in diameter, or grow larger over time, should be examined by a dermatologist.

Itchiness or Bleeding

Moles that itch, bleed, or ooze should be evaluated by a medical professional.

Pain or Discomfort

Pain or discomfort in a mole is a potential sign of trouble.


Any noticeable change in the size, shape, or color of a mole over time is a cause for concern.


Regular self-examination of your moles is a vital part of skin health. Follow these steps to perform a self-check:

  1. Use Adequate Lighting: Ensure you're in a well-lit area.
  2. Use a Mirror: Use a hand mirror or ask someone for assistance in examining hard-to-see areas.
  3. Examine Your Entire Body: Check all areas, including those not frequently exposed to the sun.
  4. Use the ABCDE Rule: Refer to the Asymmetry, Borders, Color, Diameter, and Evolution criteria mentioned earlier.
  5. Take Notes: If you notice any changes or irregularities, make a note of them, including the date.

When to See a Dermatologist

If you observe any of the concerning signs mentioned earlier during your self-examination, it's crucial to consult a dermatologist promptly.

They will perform a thorough examination and may recommend a biopsy if necessary to rule out any serious conditions.


Moles are a common part of our skin, but knowing when to worry about a mole is essential for your health. Regular self-examinations and understanding the signs of concern are key to maintaining healthy skin.

If you have any doubts or concerns about a particular mole, do not hesitate to seek professional medical advice. Your skin's health is worth the attention and care it deserves.

FAQs about Moles

Q: Can moles be removed?

A: Yes, moles can be removed for medical or cosmetic reasons. Consult a dermatologist to discuss the best approach for your specific situation.

Q: Do all moles turn into skin cancer?

A: No, the majority of moles are benign and do not become cancerous. However, it's important to monitor moles for changes and seek medical advice if you notice any concerning signs.

Q: Are moles hereditary?

A: There is a genetic component to moles. If your family has a history of atypical moles or skin cancer, you may be at a higher risk.

Q: Can moles come and go?

A: Moles may change in appearance over time, but they typically do not come and go on their own. If you notice a mole disappearing, consult a dermatologist.

Q: Is skin cancer curable?

A: The cure rate for skin cancer is high when detected and treated early. Regular skin examinations and prompt medical attention are crucial for a positive outcome.

Q: How can I protect my skin from moles and skin cancer?

A: Protect your skin from excessive sun exposure by using sunscreen, wearing protective clothing, and seeking shade. Regularly examine your skin and consult a dermatologist if you notice any changes in moles.

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