Changes in a Mole, Colored Skin Spot, or Other Skin Growth
Most moles will normally change over time. They may get
bigger, grow a hair, become more raised, get lighter in color, or fade away.
Many people develop new moles until about age 40. But some changes in moles or skin growths are
Early detection and
treatment of skin cancer can prevent complications. Melanoma, a serious type of
skin cancer, often begins as a change in a mole or
other skin growth. These early signs are described in the
ABCDE system :
Sunscreen Use and Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation Avoidance
The evidence that interventions designed to reduce exposure to UV radiation by the use of sunscreen, protective clothing, or limitation of sun exposure time decrease the incidence of nonmelanoma skin cancer is inadequate. A randomized study suggested a possible reduction in incidence of squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs), but study design and analysis problems complicate interpretation of the results.[1,2]
Border irregularity. The edges are ragged, notched,
Color. The color is not uniform. Shades of tan,
brown, and black are present. Dashes of red, white, and blue make the mole look
Diameter. The mole is larger than
6 mm (0.2 in.) across (about
the size of a pencil eraser). Any growth of a mole should be of concern.
Evolution. There is a change in the size, shape,
symptoms (such as itching or tenderness), surface (especially bleeding), or
Early detection of skin cancer includes regular
skin self-exams in which you look at your skin and note any changes in skin
growths. A skin self-exam may help identify suspicious skin growths and lead to
early treatment. Perform a skin self-exam once a month.
Check your skin, scalp, and skin growths for any
changes in color, shape, size, or appearance.
Check to see if any
area of your skin or scalp has not healed after an injury.
notice a suspicious skin growth, have your doctor look at it. Most skin growths
can be removed, which will keep them from growing and damaging the surrounding
skin or other deeper tissues or spreading to other areas of the body.
Moles and colored spots on skin can turn into skin cancer. Finding and
treating skin cancer early can help prevent problems.
Primary Medical Reviewer
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
April 27, 2011
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
April 27, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
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