Known in the medical field as melanocytic nevus, moles are dark and relatively small growths on people’s skins and they can appear alone or in clusters anywhere on the body, and most people have between ten and forty moles by the time they reach adulthood. Through the years, some moles may change their shapes and their coloring, grow hair or disappear completely.
Ninety nine percent of all moles, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, emerge between early childhood and young adulthood and those are types of benign neoplasm. The remaining one percent of people are born with the type of moles or melanocytic nevus which are known as congenital and they are considered malformations or hamartomas which may have an increased risk for melanomoa.
Moles get their dark coloring from their abnormally intensified collection of melanin which is the body’s natural coloring agent. From the dermatological standpoint, moles are classified as skin lesions known as nevi, and they can either appear under the skin (subdermal) or above it.
Various Types of Moles
The dermatological field has identified many different types of moles but the most commonly occurring ones are the following:
- Junctional Nevus. This mole appears where the epithelium and the dermis connect and it is flat in shape with a darkened coloring between brown and black.
- Intradermal Nevus. This mole is not pigmented any differently than the surrounding skin and it appears as a raised mound on the dermis.
- Compound nevus. This mole is what is commonly referred to as a “beauty mark” and it is a combination of the junctional and the intradermal nevi. Its color ranges from light and medium brown to black and it can either be congenital and present at birth or acquired later in life.
- Blue Nevus. Because the cells of this mole are imbedded deep in the dermis (skin), it appears blue and is shaped like a spindle.
- Dysplastic Nevus. Also known as nevus of Clark, this mole is flat or raised, it is usually larger than the other moles, and it has an irregular shape and uneven coloration. Its appearance is similar to that of melanoma and it, in fact, is at a higher risk of developing into this dangerous skin cancer. The risk is even more pronounced when numerous dysplastic nevi are present in several locations in the body and this condition is known as the atypical mole syndrome.
- Spitz Nevus. This mole usually appears in young children and it is a variation of the intradermal nevus with no pigmentation.
- Nevus of Reed. This mole is almost identical to the Spitz nevus but it appears mostly on young women’s legs.
- Congenital Nevus. This mole is present at birth and its size determines the risk factor for developing melanoma as the larger the size of the congenital nevus the higher is the risk.
- Acquired Nevus. Any nevus or mole that was not present at birth is considered an acquired nevus.
- Intramucosal Nevus. This is a junctional nevus which appears in the mouth, usually on the hard palate, or in the genital area, male or female.
- Giant Hairy Nevus. This mole is fairly large, darkly pigmented and hairy. It has a ten to fifteen percent chance of evolving to become melanoma.
- Recurrent Nevus. This is a surgical site where a mole or nevus has been removed incompletely and it is easily mistaken for melanoma.
- Nevus of Ito and Nevus of Ota. This is a congenital mole that is flat and brown and appears on the face or should.
- Mongolian Spot. This is a congenital mole that is large and appears blue on the backs of babies of Asian descent.
What is to be done with Moles?
Unless a dermatologist suspects melanoma or some other type of skin cancer and unless a patient wants them removed for cosmetic reasons, moles are usually left alone.