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Moles – Symptoms, Causes & Diagnosis

Skin moles (a “nevus” or “nevi” are the medical terms) are growths on your skin that range in colour from your natural skin tone to brown or black. Moles can appear anywhere on your skin or mucous membranes, alone or in groups.

What causes skin moles?

Moles tend to occur when cells in your skin grow in a cluster instead of being throughout the skin. Most moles are made of cells called melanocytes, which make the pigment that gives your skin it’s natural colour. 

What are the risk factors for skin moles?

The most common risk factor for skin moles is excessive sunlight. 

What makes skin moles darker?

Moles may appear darker after sun exposure, during pregnancy and during puberty. During pregnancy, moles often change evenly due to hormonal changes, potentially becoming darker or getting larger. We always suggest that if a mole changes in an irregular or uneven manner, it’s worth having it checked out. 

What should I look for when self-examining my skin moles?

Most skin moles are benign (non-cancerous). The moles that are of medical concern are those that look different than other existing moles on your body, or those that appear on your skin after age 30. If you notice changes in any mole’s colour, thickness, size or shape, it’s worth getting in touch to see one of specialists. 

We always recommend that if you’re experiencing moles bleeding, oozing, itchy, scaling or becoming tender and painful then coming to visit one of our specialists.  

At home, examine your skin with a mirror or ask someone to help you. Pay special attention to areas of your skin that are regularly exposed to sunlight. Your face, hands, legs (especially for females), arms, chest and back (especially for men). 

  • Asymmetry: If one half of your skin mole does not match the other half.
  • Border: If the border or edges of your mole are ragged, blurred or irregular.
  • Colour: If the colour of your mole is not the same throughout, or it has shades of multiple colours such as tan, brown, black, blue, white, or red.
  • Diameter: If the diameter of your mole is larger than the eraser of a pencil.
  • Elevation/Evolution: If your mole becomes raised after being flat, or it changes over a short period of time.

The most common location for melanoma in men is their back and in women it’s their lower legs. Melanoma is the most common cancer in women between 25 – 29 years of age. 

How does a dermatologist determine if moles are a concern?

Normal skin moles do not need to be removed, doing so will leave a scar. 

When you come for a consultation with Mr. Al Ghazal, he will perform a skin biopsy (if required) which involves taking a small sample of the mole and examined in our partner laboratory and results are usually returned within 10 days. If the mole is cancerous, it needs to be completely removed.