Moles are small brown or black patches which form on the skin. They can be flat or raised and some even have hair growing from them. They are usually circular or oval in shape.
WHAT CAUSES MOLES?
Moles are caused by skin cells that form in clusters, called, 'melanocytes', which produce the colour or pigment in your skin.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Are moles dangerous?
Most moles are harmless. However, sometimes they can develop into a form of skin cancer called malignant melanoma. If you notice new moles or existing moles that have changed shape, colour, size, height, or if they become irritated or start bleeding, then it's important you go to your GP immediately to get them checked and removed if necessary.
When should a mole be removed?
A doctor will be able to determine whether a mole needs to be removed. Sometimes they will take a biopsy to find out whether it is cancerous before removing it. Many people have moles removed for cosmetic reasons, or for comfort if it’s situated in an awkward place.
Who can remove my mole?
Mole removal should only ever be carried out by a qualified doctor. The NHS has cut back on many services in recent years, including mole removal treatments. According to current guidelines, a mole will not be removed on the NHS for purely cosmetic reasons and instead must be done through a private provider.
Why do new moles appear?
Most moles develop in early childhood and up until the age of about 20, but some people develop moles later in life. The development of new moles is linked to sun exposure and new moles can in some cases be a sign of skin cancer.
Are all new moles skin cancer?
It is normal to develop new moles and most are not harmful or cancerous - but a new mole should always be examined by a doctor, particularly if you are over the age of 25.
How can I prevent moles?
Moles are a normal skin characteristic and most people will have between 10 and 40 moles when they reach adulthood. If you want to avoid the development of new moles, you should wear an effective sunscreen and try to cover up in the sun.
Moles and pregnancy
It is normal for moles to get slightly darker during pregnancy. This is due to hormonal changes which can affect the pigment in your skin. If a mole has changed size or texture, consult your GP immediately.
OTHER TREATMENTS FOR MOLE REMOVAL
If your mole is small, you can have it removed with a specialised laser. Laser mole removal treatment uses targeted light energy to break down pigment in the mole.
Moles that protrude from the skin can be shaved away under local anaesthetic. This is usually done using a scalpel, and is relatively straightforward and painless. You may see a pink mark on your skin where the mole was, but this will fade over time.
Some moles may need to be cut away via an excision. This procedure is performed under local anaesthetic and requires a small stitch in the skin. A small scar will be left, which will fade over time.