Understanding Changes in Moles and How You Should Handle Them
Moles are common growths on the skin that many people are basically born with. While most appear on a person’s skin between the age of 10 and 25, there are other times in your life that moles can become visible. This can be a cause of concern for many.
Moles are often benign, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay attention to them. If left unchecked, a cancerous mole can lead to serious health problems down the road. Moles can also change over time, so keeping your eye on them is very important.
Keep reading to learn more about changing moles and how you should deal with them.
Table of Contents
Changes in Moles on Skin
Healthy moles are typically small brown, tan or black spots that have an even color throughout. Over time though, a mole may change color, which could indicate any number of potentially serious issues.
Common changes in moles on the skin include:
- Change in texture. Moles may change texture over time, though a uniform texture is typically common with a normal, healthy mole.
- Color. Moles that change color are not typical, as they usually remain the same color throughout a person’s life. Having a brown mole is most common. Gradual shifts may occur as you age, but these are likely unnoticed by the person with the mole. How quickly your mole is changing can be a health concern.
- The shape and size of your mole. Moles tend to be the same size, often perfectly round, for the entirety of a person’s life. Abnormally shaped or overly large moles can be cause for medical concern.
Not all changes in the color of a mole need to be cause for concern. However, moles that change in a short period of time need to be seen by a doctor. It’s always better to be safe than sorry when dealing with moles, and a problem that is caught early is much easier to treat successfully with less invasive methods.
When a mole changes from dark to light or goes from brown to red, it can be a cause for concern. It is even more problematic if the mole has changed dramatically in a short period of time. However, if you’re noticing that a mole has shifted tones over a period of years, this may be less of an issue.
All moles should be taken seriously, especially if they are changing color after being on your body for many years. Always have a doctor check out any moles immediately if they’re of serious concern.
Common color-related issues with moles include:
- Darkening of the mole in a short period of time. Moles that go from tan to dark brown or black should be looked at by a medical professional.
- Moles that go from dark to light or turn red, take on a blue tint or have hints of pink. These can be problematic changes.
- Moles that shift in color only in certain areas. This could be a sign that something serious is going on that should be checked immediately.
Are All Changing Moles Cancerous?
Moles by default are not all forms of cancer of melanoma. However, there are some major issues that you need to watch out for if you have a mole and you feel that it may be changing.
Signs of cancerous moles can often be detected using the ABCDE system:
- Asymmetry. Asymmetrical moles often have one half that does not match the other in terms of size or shape. This is a cause for concern on a new or existing mole.
- Border. The border of a mole should be even, not irregular, ragged looking or oddly shaped. Changing mole borders can indicate issues as well.
- Color. The color of a mole should be consistent throughout to be healthy. Moles that are changing color unevenly or include red, pink, blue or white patches.
- Diameter. Healthy moles are usually about 1/4-inch across, which is about the size of a standard #2 pencil eraser. A mole that is larger may be considered an atypical mole that needs to be properly checked out.
- Evolving. If a mole is changing dramatically quickly, either in size, shape or color, it is said to be evolving. This is not always a cause for concern, but rapid changes are not typical with a mole.
|Asymmetry||When half of the mole does not match the other half|
|Border||When the border (edges) of the mole are ragged or irregular|
|Colour||When the colour of the mole varies throughout|
|Diameter||If the mole’s diameter is large than a pencil’s eraser|
|Evolving||Evolving – changes in colour shape and size|
Other issues may be problems, though the ABCDE rule covers most of the common concerns when it comes to moles and cancer. A bleeding mole should also be checked out, though these are typically less common. Obviously, if you’ve suffered an injury in the area medical attention is not needed right away.
During or After Pregnancy
Many women notice that their skin is changing once they become pregnant. Moles are a common occurrence, but for many women, existing moles may begin to change color or shift slightly.
Here are a few facts about moles pregnant women should keep in mind:
- Moles that you had before getting pregnant may get darker in color or change in size to some degree.
- Moles are most likely to appear on the face, chest, thighs, armpits, nipples and vaginal area. If they are new, they are typically harmless when you develop them while pregnant.
- Hormones are the reason you’re getting moles that you never had before. It is very common and many women experience the same thing.
When to See an Expert?
A lot of people have moles on their skin in a variety of different places. For the most part, moles that you develop at an early age will be benign and not cause you any problems. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t see a doctor if you have any concerns. You also need to have existing moles checked once in a while to make sure they are still healthy and not atypical.
Many people wonder when they should take the time to get an appointment. If you’re showing these signs, calling your doctor for a quick check can put your mind at ease or help you catch pre-cancerous and cancerous moles early.
- Your mole is changing color unevenly or dramatically. Spots within your existing mole should also be checked.
- The borders of your mole are becoming ragged instead of round. This requires a visit to your doctor.
- The texture of your mole is changing quickly. This could be an underlying sign of melanoma that needs to be looked at.
- You feel like your mole is tender or itchy.
- Redness or swelling has appeared in or around the area of your mole.
These are just a few of the most common signs that you should get an existing mole looked at by a medical professional. If you have any significant changes to a mole, getting it looked at by a trusted doctor is always a safe bet.
Moles on the skin can be very common, and a lot of people have them. Moles can even be a healthy part of your body. They do need to be watched and checked regularly though, as they can become cancerous, causing you a lot of problems.
If you feel like a mole you have is changing rapidly, visit your doctor right away. It’s never a bad idea to get a mole checked to try and spot a problem. If you have moles, you’ll also want to let your doctor know to make looking at them part of your routine exam.
That way they can help you spot any issues before they become health concerns.
You can find further details of Types of moles here.