Get your moles & skin growths checked!
Marks, moles, and skin tags: everyone has ‘em! Majority of us can find them anywhere from our faces to our backs and everywhere in between. By age 20, you probably aren’t getting many more. However, this may not be so true if you are often exposed to the sun. “Sun exposure can cause you to have more moles and can cause the ones you already have to get darker” (McCoy par 2). If you have marks, moles or skin tags, it’s important to keep an eye on them for signs of skin cancer. To determine if yours are a cause for concern, it is a good idea to first identify the type of marks, moles or tags that you have.
Types of Marks Skin Moles and Growths (Alphabetically)
Acquired moles account for most moles and usually develop during childhood or early adulthood. These moles are usually smaller than a quarter inch and are thought to be due to excessive sun exposure. Most acquired moles will not develop into skin cancer.
Atypical moles (also known as dysplastic nevi) are larger than a pencil eraser and shaped irregularly. These moles are usually uneven in color, with a dark brown center. The borders of atypical moles may be irregular, with a lighter or reddish color, and unevenness or black dots around the edge. Atypical moles tend to run in families and they may be at increased risk of developing into skin cancer.
When a mole is present at birth, it is called a congenital mole, or congenital nevus. About 1 percent of people have congenital moles, and these moles may be at increased risk of turning into skin cancer.
Freckles are small brown spots usually found on the face, neck, chest, and arms. Freckles are extremely common and are not a health threat. They are more often seen in the summer. They are harmless but can be treated with a chemical peel.
A lentigo is a spot on the skin that is darker (usually brown) than the surrounding skin. Lentigines are more common among whites, especially those with fair skin. Exposure to the sun seems to be the major cause of lentigines. Lentigines most often appear on parts of the body that get the most sun, including the face and hands.
A skin tag is a small flap of tissue that hangs off the skin by a connecting stalk. They are usually found on the neck, chest, back, armpits, under the breasts, or in the groin area. Skin tags appear most often in women, especially with weight gain, and in elderly people. Skin tags usually don’t cause any pain. However, they can become irritated if anything, such as clothing, jewelry, or skin rubs against them.
The following ABCDEs are important characteristics to consider when examining moles. If a mole displays any of the signs listed below, have it checked immediately by a dermatologist. It could be cancerous.
- Asymmetry. One half of the mole does not match the other half
- Border. The border or edges of the mole are ragged, blurred, or irregular.
- Color. The color of the mole is not the same throughout or has shades of tan, brown, black, blue, white, or red.
- Diameter. The diameter of a mole is larger than the eraser of a pencil.
- Evolution. The mole is changing in size, shape, or color.
You also should have moles and tags checked if they bleed, ooze, itch, or become tender or painful.
McCoy, Krisha. “Moles: What to Look For, When to Worry.” Stroke Center –
EverydayHealth.com, Ziff Davis, LLC, 19 Dec. 2013,
“Moles, Freckles, and Skin Tags.” WebMD, WebMD,