Moles, or nevi (singular: nevus), are the most common skin growth. They can be present at birth or acquired throughout life, but most occur by the age of 20, increasing throughout childhood, peaking in adolescence, and waning in older adulthood. Nevi evolve and change throughout childhood and during pregnancy. Moles can appear anywhere on the skin in various sizes and shapes. They are made up of melanocytes, skin cells that produce melanin (dark pigment). Moles typically evolve and grow as we do. They generally begin as flat brown spots, similar to a freckle, that, over time, may grow larger, become elevated, and grow hairs. Certain types of moles carry a risk for developing malignant melanoma, a serious form of skin cancer. Sunburns, particularly in childhood, can increase the risk.
North Idaho Dermatology providers utilize the "ABCDE" method for patients to self-check their moles. Our providers can help you develop a regular routine to inspect your body for any changes in your moles by using this method. A stands for Asymmetry; look for any mole or mark where one half doesn't match the other half. B stands for Border; look for edges that are ragged, notched or blurred. C stands for Color. Watch for pigmentation that is not uniform, especially different shades of tan, brown or black. Also look for dashes of red, white, and blue. D stands for Diameter. Look out for any mole or marking greater than six millimeters in width (about the size of a pencil eraser). E stands for Evolving; a mole or skin lesion that looks like it is changing over time. If any of these warning signs appear, or if you experience any sudden growth, mole or skin discoloration, see one of our providers at North Idaho Dermatology right away.