Worried About Moles? Explore Our Mole guide to Spotting Skin Cancer

Skin Cancer

Not all moles are created equal. Some develop on your childhood skin and are harmless. Others can be influenced by sun exposure and become cancerous. Yet, there’s also a whole spectrum in between, where a mole you thought safe 6 months ago turns into a potential melanoma. If you’re currently searching for answers regarding a worrying mole, you’re in the right place.

But first, it’s important to keep in mind that even trained professionals can have difficulty distinguishing between a harmless mole and a potentially cancerous one. This is why it’s vital to get a professional skin check, such as our Full Body MoleMap, to detect any abnormal moles early.

With that being said, you will find here a comprehensive mole guide breaking down the different types of moles alongside photographs, and guidance on how to assess yourself – and what to consider – for skin cancer.

Types of Moles 2 camera

The Different Types of Moles

Com­mon moles 

Com­mon moles are exact­ly that — com­mon. In fact, most adults have between 10 to 40 com­mon moles on their skin. These types of moles typically have even pigmentation, distinct edges, and a dome-like, smooth appearance. colour can vary from light to dark, according to your skin type, and overall, commTheir on moles are considered safe.

Types of Moles 3 COMMON MOLES

Atyp­i­cal mole

Atypical moles – or dysplastic nevi – are a type of skin mole that shows abnormalities. Unlike common moles, they have irregular borders, uneven colouring, and can be larger than 6mm. Although most atypical moles are benign and can be both dome-like or flat, they have a higher risk of developing into skin cancer than common moles.

Types of Moles 4 atypical moles

Acquired mole

Technically, most moles are acquired as they develop with age. However, the “acquired” type primarily refers to the really small moles with symmetrical borders and even pigmentation that have appeared in childhood and early adulthood. Acquired moles are typically benign.

Types of Moles 5 ACQUIRED MOLE

Con­gen­i­tal mole

Congenital moles are marks present at birth or that develop a few months after birth. Often confused with birthmarks, congenital moles are common and can be distinguished through their oval shape, colour and size variety. These types of moles are usually raised, covered with hairs, and are considered non-suspicious.

Types of Moles 6 CONGENITAL MOLE

Junc­tion­al melanocyt­ic nevus and com­pound nevus

Junctional Melanocytic Nevus Moles are a type of mole that typically appears in childhood and is considered benign. They can range in colour, have a slightly raised, circular shape with regular borders, and measure between 1-10mm in diameter. Most junctional moles will lose pigmentation over time as the person moves through adulthood.

Types of Moles 7 JUNCTIONAL NEVUS

Compound Nevus Moles

Compound Nevus Moles typically start as a flat lesion and inflate over time. In most cases, the dome-like mole will be surrounded by a flat area, with a pigmentation variation between the two. While more common on fair skin tone and usually benign, it is still important to have this mole type checked for any changes or abnormalities.

Intra­der­mal nevus

Intradermal Nevus Moles are skin-coloured moles that usually have the same level of pigmentation as the surrounding skin. They are often small, measuring between 5mm to 1cm, and can be raised, rounded or dome-shaped, with grow hairs. These moles can appear spontaneously or develop on top of existing moles, and can resemble early basal cell carcinoma, so it’s important to have them checked to rule out any potential skin cancer.

Types of Moles 8 INTRADERMAL NEVUS

Halo nevus

Halo Nevus Moles are identified by their distinct colours, with a dark brown, tan, or pink mark, surrounded by a white patch of skin or “halo”. They can be caused by sun exposure or when the body’s immune system tries to “attack” the mole. This immune response affects the pigmentation in the normal skin around the mole, creating a distinct white outline. While usually benign, rare cases have shown that this mole type can be a sign of melanoma elsewhere on the body and having them checked regularly is essential.

Types of Moles 9 HALO NEVUS

The causes of Moles

Moles are a common occurrence in most individuals, with their development often starting during childhood or even present at birth. However, some individuals may not develop moles until later in life. The number of moles varies from person to person, but individuals with fair skin tend to have more moles as their skin produces less melanin.

According to The Australasian College of Dermatology, Australian children have an average of 50 moles by the age of 15. There are several reasons why different types of moles appear on the skin, including genetics, excessive sun exposure, or hormonal fluctuations.

Genet­ics

Genetics play a significant role in the development of moles. Whether that’s your family history of skin cancer or simply your skin type, your genetics can trigger the growth of new moles and increase your risk of skin cancer.

Sun expo­sure

Sun exposure is one of the primary causes of new moles. If you’re exposed to the sun regularly through work, had one-too-many sunburn in one summer, or spend a large amount of time outdoors, new moles are more likely to appear and grow in size.

Hor­monal Change

Hormonal changes in the body during the teenage years, pregnancy, and menopause can cause new moles to grow and existing moles to become darker or develop. New areas of pigmentation may also appear.

Mole Assessment

For the major­i­ty of peo­ple who have them, moles are sim­ply harm­less brown spots on their body and don’t cause any alarm. But moles can change and with any change comes a small risk that they will devel­op into melanoma.

While you may be able to com­pare your moles with some of the types of moles list­ed above, this arti­cle is not a diag­nos­tic tool and does not replace the advice of a med­ical pro­fes­sion­al. Ulti­mate­ly, the only way to deter­mine whether your moles are harm­less or need fur­ther inves­ti­ga­tion is to book in for a pro­fes­sion­al skin check.

The SCAN method

  • Sore: Any spots that are sore, scaly, itchy or bleed­ing, and don’t heal with­in 6 weeks
  • Chang­ing: Any changes in size, shape, colour or texture
  • Abnor­mal: Any spots that look or feel dif­fer­ent when com­pared to your oth­er moles
  • New: Any spots that have appeared recent­ly, espe­cial­ly if you’re aged over 40

The ABCDE method

  • A: Look for asymmetry
  • B: Assess borders
  • C: Watch for colour changes
  • D: Monitor the diameter
  • E: Look for elevation

Overall, it is great to self-assess your skin every month as it can be just what you need to get a mole checked further. However, it is also important to remember that changes may not be spotted by an untrained eye. Additionally, this guide shouldn’t be used as a diagnostic tool as your moles may have other features that should be taken into consideration. While this guide is here for educational purposes, the only way to determine with certainty whether your moles are harmless or not is through a professional skin check.

Learn more about our Full Body MoleMap.

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