Everything You Should Know About Moles

Everything You Should Know About Moles

You might think of moles as beauty marks. Most are benign, but sometimes moles can become cancerous and lead to melanoma if you don’t get them removed.  

Our board-certified dermatologists at Seacoast Dermatology are experts in diagnosing and treating moles if any look suspicious. 

An annual dermatology checkup is the best way to prevent any type of skin cancer from taking hold and spreading in your body. If we think a mole might be precancerous, we take a biopsy. If it has cancerous cells, we remove it. 

What is a mole? 

A mole is simply a growth on your skin where cells called melanocytes have landed together. These are the types of cells that produce melanin, a pigment that darkens your skin. That’s why a mole is darker than the surrounding skin. 

Moles normally develop during the first two decades of your life. Many adults have 10-40 moles on their skin. Moles can range from tan to brown or black. 

What type of moles may lead to cancer?

Two types of moles can become cancerous. About one in 100 people has a congenital mole, which appears at birth. If it’s larger than 8 millimeters, it has an increased chance of turning cancerous. 

Dysplastic or atypical moles are large and have uneven edges and color. Genetics plays a large role in whether you have this type of mole. If you do, you have an increased risk of melanoma, and regular checkups should be a routine part of your health care. 

What to look for when checking your moles

The American Academy of Dermatology has developed guidelines for inspecting moles. Why is this so important? If cancer in your mole isn’t detected early, the cancer could spread to other organs in your body. Melanoma is the culprit in skin cancer deaths.  

When we catch precancerous cells in a mole and remove the mole, we make sure the surrounding area has not been affected. Having a mole removed can save your life. 

Learn the ABCDEs of moles to protect your health. If your mole has any of these characteristics, call us for an appointment right away. 


If your mole isn’t round, look again. If one part is unlike the other, it could be a warning sign.


Has your mole developed jagged or irregular edges? An uneven border signals that there may be a problem.   


Is the color variegated? Is part tan and another part brown or black? Does it appear as white, red, or blue? It’s time to see the dermatologist.


If your mole is the size of a pencil eraser, it should be checked. Any mole 6 millimeters or larger needs to be examined. 


Has your mole changed its size or shape? Moles can disappear, which is normal, but if your mole looks different than it has in the past, you should get it checked. 

Contact us at any of our convenient locations for an appointment. We have offices in Portsmouth, Dover, and Exeter, New Hampshire. We’re here to help you protect your skin.

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