Moles can have smooth or rough surfaces, are of varying height, and may have hair growing out of them. They are more common for people with fair skin, and tend to run in families. Spending time in the sun can lead to the appearance of many small moles.
Some moles appear and disappear throughout life, some are present and birth and do not change. Different life stages, such as teenage years, old age, and during pregnancy, can affect the prevalence and colour of moles.
Every few months, it is a good idea to check your skin for changes to existing moles or for the appearance of new moles. You want to be mindful of any uneven colouring, uneven or rough edges, bleeding, redness or inflammation, or of any moles that increase in size.
The ABCDE method is a helpful way to remember what kinds of changes to be aware of:
- A for asymmetry
- B for border irregularity
- C for colour
- D for diameter
- E for elevation or enlargement.
Any changes or irregular moles call for a visit to the doctor, as they can signify the development of melanoma, an aggressive and fast-spreading form of skin cancer, which is much easier to treat if caught in its early stage.
Lesions are blemishes or changes that appear on the skin, which are different from moles. There are several different types of lesion.
The most common are:
- Macules (flat and less than 1cm in diameter).
- Papules (elevated lesions, less than 1cm in diameter, such as warts, lichen planus, acne, rashes, urticaria and insect bites).
- Plaques (more than 1cm in diameter, and elevated from the skin surface, with a flat or round top).1
- Nodules (firm lesions such as cysts, lipomas, and fibromas which extend into the subcutaneous tissue).
- Pustules (which contain pus and are usually due to infection or inflammatory conditions).
What to do next
Any new blemishes or moles, or changes to existing marks on the skin should be checked out with one of our specialists.
Call our team to make an appointment.
It is a good idea to check your skin every few months to see if any existing moles have changed, or if new moles have appeared.
This is a general term which covers normal moles, freckles, or lentigines (age spots). They are not dangerous, but if you have a lot of lesions it is a good idea to have your skin checked regularly by a dermatologist who can monitor any changes.
New moles should always be checked out by a dermatologist, who can perform a biopsy if necessary, and rule out any possibility of melanoma.