A Basic Guide to Identifying Different Types of Moles

Skin lesions are a common concern amongst Australians because of how harmful and potent the sun can be.

When spots appear on your skin, it’s normal to be alarmed and concerned, with most people immediately jumping to thoughts of cancer.

The best thing to do when you notice a new spot or a change in an existing spot is to book a consultation with a doctor so that it can be evaluated and the appropriate action can be taken.

Mole 101: What are they?

Moles are a collection of abnormal skin cells that grew in a group instead of spreading out across the skin.

These skin growths are raised, discoloured and can be found on almost any area of the body. Melanocytes are the name of the cells that make up moles and they’re responsible for producing the pigment and melanin that’s found in the skin.  

Moles can develop due to sun exposure, hormonal changes or even genetics, with fair-skinned people being most susceptible to developing them.

Mole 101: What are the different types?

Here are the different types of moles that you could experience during your lifetime and should see a qualified professional about.

Congenital Moles. These moles are present at birth or are acquired during childhood. Even though these moles are not caused by sun exposure, they can become malignant over time so it’s best to keep an eye on them.

Junctional Melanocytic Nevi. Located where the dermis and epidermis meet, these moles usually form during childhood and early adulthood and can move deeper under the skin over time. They are most commonly found on the legs, face, body and even the soles of the feet.

Intradermal Nevi. Instead of being brown, these moles are flesh-coloured and have an even pigmentation.

Compound Nevi. These moles are raised and include characteristics from junctional and intradermal nevi moles.

Dysplastic Nevi. Since these moles are much larger and their edges are less defined, they are usually the biggest cause for concern. There is a high chance that this mole will evolve into skin cancer so they should be closely monitored.

Over and above moles, there are also a few skin spots that can develop, including:

Freckles. Also known as ephelides, freckles are small brown spots that form in clusters, with areas of the body that are exposed to the sun being most vulnerable. Almost all freckles are harmless.

Age spots. These skin spots are flat and the result of excessive sun exposure. Someone with many age spots does have an increased risk of developing cancer.

Seborrheic Keratosis. These raised spots are dark in colour and look very similar to moles, however, the texture of these spots is very rough. Even though these spots won’t turn into cancer, it’s always best to ask a professional such as those at The DOC Clinic whether it should be tested.

If you will be removing any of your moles, make a point of thoroughly researching your mole removal clinic of choice to make sure that they have the necessary experience, are using medical grade equipment and are operating out of an accredited facility.