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Moles – Symptoms, causes & complications

This is a very common type of skin growth. Moles often appear as small and dark brown spots which are caused by clusters of pigmented cells. Generally, moles appear during childhood and the adolescence. It is noticed that most people have ten to forty moles and some of them can change in the appearance or they can fade away over time. In the most cases, moles are harmless.

There are rare cases when mole become cancerous. It is very important to monitor it and other pigmented patches to detect the skin cancer, especially melanoma. Nevi are a medical term which is used for moles.


Moles - Symptoms, causes & complications

We know that the typical mole is a brown spot. But there are some cases when mole can come in different colors, shapes and sizes

  • Color and texture: Mole can be pink, blue, red, black, tan or brown in color. Their texture can be raised, flat, wrinkled or smooth. Also, they can have a hair growing from them.
  • Shape: It is known that most mole are round or oval.
  • Sizes: Usually, mole are less than ¼ inch (this is about 6 millimeters) in diameter which is the size of a pencil eraser. There are rare cases when mole present at birth, known as congenital nevi, which can be much bigger and they can cover wide areas of the face, torso or a limb.

Mole can happen anywhere on the body, including your armpits, scalp, between your fingers and toes, and under your nails. In the most cases, people have between 10 – 40 moles. Many of these moles develop by age 50. It can fade away over time or they can change in appearance. The hormonal changes of adolescence and pregnancy can cause mole to become darker and larger. The ABCDE guide can help you to know if your mole indicates melanoma or other skin cancers

  • A: A is used for asymmetrical shape which means that one half is not like the other half.
  • B: B is used for border and you should look for scalloped, notched or moles irregular borders so you will know if you have cancer.
  • C: C is used for color and you may have cancer if your moles have uneven color, have many colors or have changed color.
  • D: D is used for diameter and you should see if the new growth of mole is larger than ¼ inch.
  • E: E is used for evolving. You should see if your moles have changes in height, shape, size or color, especially if the mole turns black. Also, moles can develop symptoms, like bleeding or itchiness.


When the cells in the skin (known as melanocytes) grow in clusters or clumps, then it happen. We know that melanocytes are distributed throughout the skin and they produce melanin which is the natural pigment which gives the color of the skin.

Mole Risk factors

The main complication of mole is melanoma. It is noticed that some people have increased risk of their mole becoming cancerous and developing into melanoma. Here are some factors which increase your risk of melanoma:

Having a personal or family history of melanoma: It is known that if you have melanoma in your past, then you have increased risk of a mole becoming cancerous. Also, some types of atypical mole can lead to a genetic form of melanoma.

Having many moles: If you have more than 50 ordinary moles, then this can indicate an increased risk for melanoma. There are some studies in which are said that the number of mole can predict cancer risk. In one study was shown that people less than 50 years old who have twenty or more moles on their arms have increased risk for melanoma. In another study was shown a relationship between the number of women’s moles and breast cancer risk.

Having unusual moles: Mole which are bigger than a common mole and which are irregular in shape are known as atypical or dysplastic nevi. These mole tend to be hereditary. Often, they have dark brown centers and lighter and uneven borders.

Being born with large moles: These large mole are known as congenital nevi. When an infant has mole and these mole are more than 2 inches large (5 cm) in diameter, then they are classified as congenital nevi. This large mole often becomes cancerous and almost never becomes cancerous before the child reaches puberty.

Ramesh Kumar
Ramesh Kumar
Dr. Ramesh kumar, BAMS is naturopathy doctor who is well versed with health benefits of all fruits, vegetables and medicinal plants


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