Advice Centre – Moles

We do not treat or remove moles at Laser Skin Solutions.
Moles, known medically as ‘melanocytic naevi’, are small skin lesions that are usually brown but can be darker or even skin coloured. They are a collection of cells called melanocytes, which produce the pigment (colour) in your skin. They can vary in size and colour and can be raised or flat, very smooth or slightly rough and can also have hairs growing out of them.

Why do we get moles?

Some of the moles we have on our bodies are there from birth. These are called ‘congenital melanocytic naevi’. More commonly, moles develop as we get older and more likely to appear on areas of skin that have been exposed to the sun. Sun exposure can also cause brown marks to appear on the skin in the form of sunspots. These are not moles and are medically known as ‘solar lentigos’ or ‘solar lentigines’. These are easily and safely removed with laser and/or IPL. See our pigmentation treatment page for sunspot removal for more information. Moles should only ever be removed by a doctor or dermatologist. They should never be lasered.

What if my moles change in appearance?

Moles can and do change in appearance. Some moles can fade in colour and even come away and fall off over a period of time. It is important that you familiarise yourself with your own moles and keep a close eye on them for any changes. You can do this by simply keeping an eye on them, taking photos of them, or there are even ‘mole checker’ apps that can be downloaded on to iphones.

If you think a mole has changed be sure to have it checked out by your GP or by a dermatologist.

How do I check my moles?

You can check your moles against the ‘ABCDE’ rule as follows:

A is for ASYMMETRY: One half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other.

B is for BORDER: Normal spots have smooth edges. Cancerous spots may have irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred edges.

C is for COLOUR: The colour is not the same all over and may include shades of brown or black or sometimes with patches of red, white, or blue.

D is for DIAMETER: Normal spots are about the size of a pencil end-about 1/4 inch- anything larger is worrisome.

E is for Elevated: Having a spot above skin level is another warning sign.

What is Malignant melanoma?

Malignant melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer. Whilst most moles are completely harmless, it is possible for any mole to turn cancerous. The reasons are complex however they mainly come down to genetic or hereditary factors, as well as environmental reasons like sun exposure. Whilst exposure to UV rays can dramatically increase your risk of developing skin cancers like malignant melanoma, it is possible to for moles to turn cancerous on areas of the body which have not been directly exposed to sunlight.

If you have a mole which is dark in colour, fast growing or a mole which changes in size shape, or bleeds or itches, be sure to get it checked out as soon as possible. Like most cancers, key to surviving skin cancer is to catch it early enough before it spreads.