Also known as a nevus, a common mole is a small growth that occurs on this skin. This growth is characteristically tan, pink or brown in color, and often features an edge that is distinct.
A common mole is normally smaller than 5mm wide which is approximately one quarter of an inch or the width of a pencil eraser. Moles are often dome-shaped and come with a surface that is smooth to the touch. Common moles are skin growths that develop when the melanocytes or pigment cells grow on the skin in the form of clusters. Most adults will have moles on their skin, ranging from between 10-40 in number. Such skin growths are typically located on areas above the waistline which are often exposed to the sun. It is rare to find moles on the breast, buttocks or scalp.
Common moles may appear as early as birth, being present when a baby is born. However, moles are known to typically appear during the later years of an individual’s childhood. Most individuals will continue to develop new skin moles until they reach the age of forty years. Common moles will often fade away in the elderly and as one grows older.
It is important for individuals with more than 50 common moles on their skin to seek medical attention as they face increased chances of developing melanoma, a dangerous form of skin cancer. However, the appearance of moles should not be a cause of alarm for everyone who has them as not all moles will develop into melanoma.
Dysplastic nevi are unusual moles which are typically flat and large, and which lack an oval or symmetric round shape. These moles also normally carry an edge that is not distinct, and may feature shades of tan, pink or brown. If you have dysplastic nevi, you face higher risks of developing melanoma. You should however note that in the majority of cases, dysplastic nevi will not turn into melanoma.
It is important to consult your doctor immediately the size, color, height or shape of your mole changes or in the event that it begins to ooze or bleed. You should also seek medical attention if you notice a new mole that does not resemble your other moles. The only way melanoma can be diagnosed is through the removal of skin tissue, which is thereafter checked for the presence of cancer cells.