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Types of Moles

Types of Moles

A common mole forms when melanocytes grow in clusters. In rare cases, a common mole can turn into a type of skin cancer called melanoma. This write-up provides information on the types of moles.
Suketu Mehta
Last Updated: Aug 22, 2018
Moles are skin growths that could appear anywhere on the skin. These could be black, brown, pink, or tan in color. Adults can have anywhere between 10 and 40 common moles.
Basically, these form when melanocytes, which are cells that are responsible for the formation of melanin, grow in clusters, instead of spreading out evenly on the skin. Melanin is the pigment that is responsible for the color of our skin.
These skin growths might be congenital, which means that they might be present at birth. These could also appear later in life. Such skin growths are called acquired moles. Learning about the different types of moles on skin could prove beneficial, as some of these skin growths could develop into melanoma, which is a type of skin cancer.
Moles on the Body
A person's skin color determines whether the mole would be dark or light in color. These could be black, brown, red, pink, or white in color.
Atypical Nevi/Dysplastic Nevi
These moles are comparatively bigger in size and also irregular in shape. These are benign moles that resemble melanoma. It is believed that individuals who have such moles could be at a greater risk of developing melanoma. If the number of such moles increases, it's advisable to seek medical assistance.
Halo Nevus
Normally, these types of moles have a light or white-colored circular ring around them. Color changes in this type of mole are observed over a period of time. These usually resolve with time. Though these are usually not cancerous, it's advisable to have them examined.
Congenital Moles
These are moles that are present at birth. These might be dark brown or black in color. These appear due to the proliferation of melanocytes in the dermis and/or epidermis. Mostly, these moles are harmless, and a change in color or size should be the only cause of concern. However, consult a dermatologist, if the mole is too large.
When to Seek Medical Assistance
Medical assistance must be sought when there are changes in moles. Common moles are not a cause of concern, but atypical moles could turn cancerous. Thus, consult a doctor if:
The color of the mole is changing
The mole is becoming smaller or bigger
The shape, texture, or height has changed
The skin on the surface has become dry or scaly
The skin feels hard or lumpy
It starts to itch
It bleeds or oozes
Remember the ABCDE rule, which describes the features of early melanoma.

In case of melanoma, the shape of the mole is asymmetrical.

The edges of the mole are ragged, irregular, or notched. They are not well-defined, and are blurred in outline. The pigment may spread into the surrounding skin.
The color is uneven, with shades of black, brown, and tan. Also, the mole might have areas of white, gray, red, pink, or blue.

The size of the mole increases, and it is wider than 6 mm in diameter.

The mole seems to be evolving, with changes in shape, size, or color being observed over a period of time.
If you notice the aforementioned changes in the mole, consult a dermatologist.
Other Types of Skin Growths
Seborrheic Keratoses
Seborrheic keratoses are small, rough bumps that often affect middle-aged or older population. With time, these thicken, thereby getting a fleshy, wart-like appearance. Most are tan or brown in color. These could appear anywhere on the skin. These could be removed through surgery or cryosurgery (freezing the area with liquid nitrogen).
Fibroblasts, which are soft tissue cells under the skin, accumulate to form small-sized, firm bumps. These could be red or brown in color. These bumps usually appear on the legs.
Superficial Dermoid cyst
Dermoid cysts are skin-colored, benign growths that might contain sweat glands, hair, sebaceous glands, etc. Superficial cysts that are present on the skin can be removed surgically.
Boy With Spiky Hair
Exposure to sun can cause dark, flat, red or brown spots on the skin. These are clusters of melanin pigment. These are more common in individuals with light skin.
Keloids are raised, firm, fibrous growths that develop on wounds. Surgery or administration of corticosteroid injections can help flatten these growths.
Keratoacanthomas are round, flesh-colored growths that usually appear on the face, forearm, or back of the hand. A fluid or material of paste-like consistency is present at the center of the growth.
It's advisable to consult a dermatologist for determining if the growth is malignant or not. Administration of corticosteroid injections or surgery might be considered for the treatment.
Lipomas are growths that consist of adipose tissue. These are round or oval in shape. Medical assistance must be sought, if the shape or appearance of the growth changes.
Pyogenic Granuloma
Pyogenic granulomas are raised growths that appear due to the proliferation of capillaries. These could be red, brown, or bluish-black in color. These mostly appear after an injury. These could be removed through a surgery.
Skin tags
These are soft, small, flesh-colored skin flaps on the neck, armpits, or groin. These can be removed through cryosurgery.
On a concluding note, skin growths are not always cancerous. However, it's advisable to consult a dermatologist, if there is an increase in the number of moles on your body, or if the color, size, or texture of any of these moles seems to be changing.
Disclaimer: The information provided here is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.