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We are expert dermatology providers taking care of New Yorkers and their families.
Moles are common. Almost every adult has a few of them. Adults who have light skin often have more moles. They may have 10 to 40 moles on their skin. This is normal. Some moles will darken, and others will lighten. If a mole starts to grow, itch, or bleed, make an appointment to see a dermatologist.
People often want to know how they can tell a mole from a melanoma. Here is a general rule.
A mole on your body usually has these traits. It's:
One Color—often brown, but a mole can be tan, black, red, pink, blue, skin-toned, or colorless
Round in shape
Flat or Slightly Raised
Unchanged from Month to Month
Although moles have a distinct look, they may not look alike. Even in the same person, moles can differ in size, shape, or color. Moles can have hair. Some moles will change slowly over time, possibly even disappearing. It's also important to know that moles can appear anywhere on the skin. They can develop on your scalp, between your fingers and toes, on the soles and palms, and even under your nails.
The most-serious skin cancer differs from moles in that it tends to show one or more of the following traits:
A = Asymmetry. One half is unlike the other.
B = Border. An irregular, scalloped, or poorly defined border.
C = Color. Is varied from one area to another; has shades of tan, brown, or black; is sometimes white, red, or blue.
D = Diameter. Melanoma are usually greater than 6 mm (the size of a pencil eraser) when diagnosed, but they can be smaller.
E = Evolving. A mole or skin lesion that looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape, or color.
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