Moles: What Is Considered Normal?

20 September 2016
 Categories: , Blog

Moles, those small spots of darkened pigment, are relatively common. Although few people are born with moles, they do tend to develop them on exposed parts of the body beginning in childhood. But a mole on its own is not cause for concern. The following guide can help you determine when you should seek medical assistance.

Common moles

Common moles tend to be relatively small – you should be able to cover them completely with a pencil eraser. It should also have smooth edges and a circular or near circular shape. Color can vary greatly when it comes to moles, but the color should be consistent throughout. It can range from dark brown or nearly black through any shade of brown or even light pink.

Cancer warnings

The good news is that common moles rarely become cancerous, so moles that you have had for most of your life aren't likely to be a danger. This doesn't mean that it is impossible for them to become cancerous, though. You should still monitor your moles for any changes. Signs that a common mole may be developing cancer cells include the following:

  • It begins to shrink or grow. Keep in mind that gradual growth is usually normal, especially in a child's moles, but a mole that is growing should still be checked by a dermatologist.

  • The color, texture, or overall shape of the mole changes.

  • It becomes itchy, begins to burn, or starts to bleed. Changes in skin condition must be checked by a doctor.

Irregular moles

Irregular moles differ from common moles, and these are more likely to be a dangerous form of cancer like melanoma. This doesn't mean that every irregular mole is going to be cancerous, though. It is important to have every irregular mole checked out by your doctor. They can determine if it is cancerous or simply a mole that should be watched carefully. The following describes common traits of irregular moles:

  • The mole may have a raised center and uneven edges.

  • The color or texture may vary across its surface.

  • They tend to be larger than common moles, although some may still be small.

  • The shape of the mole tends to be asymmetrical.

Similar to common moles, you will want to seek treatment from your doctor or dermatologist immediately if the mole begins to grow, changes in appearance, bleeds, or itches. If a mole has become cancerous, prompt treatment is your best option.

For more information, talk with a dermatologist in your area or visit websites like