Moles are common skin lesions present all over the body. Typically, these lesions are brown in colour, but can be skin-coloured, red or some other dark colour. Moles develop when melanocytes accumulate in one section of the skin. Melanocytes are responsible for giving you your skin colour. This is the reason people with darker skin tone have fewer moles compared to those with lighter skin tone. A fair-skinned person will have around 30 moles by the time they are 30 years old.
The shape and dimensions of the moles can vary. They can be oval or circular, raised or flat, and smooth or rough. Some moles may even have hair growth. The appearance and number of moles keep changing, and more often than not, you will not notice their presence as they fade away without you even noticing. Age and hormones appear to have an impact on the number and appearance of the moles. Pregnant women may notice that their moles appear darker than usual, while teenagers may find that the number of moles increases. On the other hand, by the time you reach 40 to 50 years, you may find that your moles have disappeared.
Usually, moles are benign and are no cause for concern. However, sometimes, they can be cancerous. This form of skin cancer is known as malignant melanoma and should not be ignored as it is aggressive and life-threatening.
If you notice a dark and rapidly growing colour spot on your skin, or if an existing mole suddenly changes size, colour and shape, do not ignore it. It is best to check existing moles every few months and if you notice redness, itchiness, crusting, bleeding and inflammation, visit your GP right away.
You can use the ABCDE method to identify problematic moles.
• A = Asymmetry
• B = Irregular border or edges
• C = Change in colour
• D = Diameter of the mole is more than 6mm
• E = Elevated or evolving mole where the size, colour and shape change rapidly