Moles are common. Almost every adult has a few moles. Adults who have light skin often have more moles. They may have 10 to 40 moles on their skin. This is normal.
You should not be overly worried about your moles. But you should know:
Moles in children: What parents should know Moles on a young child’s skin are generally nothing to worry about. It is normal for new moles to appear during childhood and adolescence. Moles will grow as the child grows. Some moles will darken, and others will lighten. These changes are expected in children and seldom a sign of melanoma — a type of skin cancer that can begin in a mole.
MOLES: SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS People often want to know how they can tell a mole from a melanoma. Here is a general rule. A mole on your body has these traits:
Your moles may not look alike. Even in the same person, moles can differ in size, shape, or color. Moles can hove hair. Some moles will change slowly over time, possibly even disappearing. Moles can appear anywhere on the skin. Moles develop on the scalp, between the fingers and toes, on the soles and palms, and even under the nails. Melanoma If you see a mole or new spot on your skin that has any of the ABCDEs of melanoma, see a dermatologist immediately.
MOLES: DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT How do dermatologists tell whether a spot is a mole? A dermatologist’s trained eye can often tell whether a spot is a mole.
How do dermatologists treat moles? Most moles do not require treatment. A dermatologist will remove a mole that:
A dermatologist can remove a mole during an office visit. A few moles will require a second visit. Whether it’s during 1 or 2 visits, a dermatologist can safely and easily remove a mole.
A dermatologist will use 1 of these procedures:
Here’s why you should never try to shave off a mole at home: If the mole contains skin cancer, some of the cancer cells can stay in the skin — and even spread. You can disfigure your skin, causing a scar or other permanent reminder. You can cause an infection.
Outcome After a mole is removed, the skin will heal. If the mole grows back, immediately make another appointment to see your dermatologist. This is a sign of melanoma, a type of skin cancer.
SEBORRHEIC KERATOSES: OVERVIEW Seborrheic keratosis (seb-o-REE-ik care-uh-TOE-sis) is a common skin growth. It may look worrisome, but it is benign (not cancer). These growths often appear in middle-aged and older adults. Some people get just one. It is, however, more common to have many. They are not contagious.
Most often seborrheic keratoses start as small, rough bumps. Then slowly they thicken and get a warty surface. They range in color from white to black. Most are tan or brown.
They can appear almost anywhere on the skin.
Seborrheic keratoses can look like warts, moles, actinic keratoses, and skin cancer. They differ, though, from these other skin growths. Seborrheic keratoses have a waxy, °pasted-on-the-skin° look. Some look like a dab of warm, brown candle wax on the skin. Others may resemble a barnacle sticking to a ship.
SEBORRHEIC KERATOSES: SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS Seborrheic keratoses tend to:
Start as small, rough bumps, then slowly thicken and develop a warty surface. Have a waxy, stuck-on-the-skin look. Be brown, though they range in color from white to black. Range in size from a fraction of an inch to larger than a half-dollar. Form on the chest, back, stomach, scalp, face, neck, or other parts of the body (but not on the palms and soles). Cause no pain — some itch.
SEBORRHEIC KERATOSES: WHO GETS AND CAUSES Who gets seborrheic keratoses? In most people, seborrheic keratoses first appear in middle age or later. People who are most likely to get these growths have family members with seborrheic keratoses.
Sometimes the growths appear during pregnancy or after estrogen replacement therapy. Children rarely have these growths.
What causes seborrheic keratoses? The cause of seborrheic keratoses is unknown. We do know the following: o Seborrheic keratoses seem to run in families. Some people seem to inherit a tendency to get many of these growths.
SEBORRHEIC KERATOSES: TIPS FOR MANAGING Most seborrheic keratoses do not require care. You should see a dermatologist if: