What are moles?

Arthur W. Perry, MD
Plastic Surgery
Moles are the most common brown growth on the face. Everyone has dozens of moles on their bodies. Cancer occurs in 1 in 10,000 moles. Most are benign for life. However, if your mole is larger than the eraser on a pencil, has more than one color, has color that extends beyond the raised border of the mole, bleeds, itches, or has irregular borders, then you should show it to your dermatologist or plastic surgeon. These moles would likely be removed.
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Moles are small blemishes on the skin that are dark because of a higher concentration of melanin. Melanin is the substance that gives color in skin. Moles that are small, symmetrical, and with even pigmentation are typically benign. However, if your mole has any new changes including shape, color, or size, then you should see your doctor for an evaluation.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Moles are skin growths that develop from the skin's pigment cells (melanocytes). They may be dark brown, black, pink, or tan, and may be present at birth or develop during childhood or in adulthood. Most moles are not a problem. However, moles that grow larger, change in color, develop an irregular border, or hurt or itch should be reported to your dermatologist since these may be signs of skin cancer. See your dermatologist if you have any concerns about your moles.
Dr. Ellen Marmur, MD
Dermatology

There are three general types of moles. One type is a flat, dark brown spot (a benign melanocytic nevus), another is pigmented and slightly raised (a junctional nevus), and there are also flesh-colored bumpy moles (intradermal nevi). Robert Redford has intradermal nevi, Sarah Jessica Parker had a junctional nevus on her chin (which recently was surgically removed), Cindy Crawford has a junctional nevus near her lip, and Marilyn Monroe had a very famous benign melanocytic nevus. It's no wonder these are known as "beauty marks."

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Continue Learning about Skin Care

Skin Care

Skin Care

Blueberries, dark chocolate and sunscreen are three things you need to keep skin beautiful, supple and smooth. Antioxidant-rich foods such as berries, dark chocolate, cantaloupe, citrus fruits and leafy greens provide the vitamins ...

you need for skins elasticity. Avoiding smoking prevents premature aging. But the number-one way to keep skin gorgeous is to stay out of the sun and away from tanning beds. The suns radiation causes skin damage, including wrinkles, age spots and skin cancer. Use a sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays in an SPF of 15 or higher, and reapply often.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.