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Moles are very common, and the vast majority are harmless. For children and younger adults, the appearance of a new mole should not cause alarm unless it is significantly different than any other mole on the skin. Moles continue to develop on most adults until about the age of 50. After this age, new moles are less common and some existing moles may even fade away. If you are over 50 and notice a new mole, you should watch it for signs that may indicate melanoma.

The common mole is an accumulation of melanocytes (pigment cells in the skin) that can occur normally on many parts of the body. Normal moles vary in size and color, but tend to be round or oval, symmetrical and have even borders. Melanocytes can also be damaged and become malignant (cancerous), but this happens to a very small number of normal moles.

People with 50 or more moles are at higher risk for melanoma, but a large number of moles does not mean that you will develop melanoma.

Indiana University Health dermatologists are experts at distinguishing between ordinary moles and melanoma. If you are an older adult, you should have new moles checked by a doctor. We examine new moles closely and take a biopsy (tissue sample) of any that fit the profile for melanoma.

We can also remove unwanted moles that appear on a part of the body that is highly visible, such as the face, or in a location on your body where it is easily damaged. Our clinicians will often remove these types of moles in a minor procedure during your visit.

How We Can Help

How We Can Help

Moles Treatment Information

If we diagnose your mole as cancerous, we arrange to treat it as soon as possible. Melanoma can progress rapidly, so it is important to move quickly.

Most of the time, we simply examine your moles and ask you to come back at regular intervals. This allows us to monitor your moles for any possible cancerous development. Some people have a large number of moles (50 or more), which makes it difficult to monitor these growths accurately. In these cases we may complete a body mapping procedure, where we take a picture of your entire body and make accurate observations of your moles over time.

If you want a common mole removed for cosmetic reasons or because it is prone to damage from ordinary activities, our specialists can do that for you. These are usually removed by cutting them out or shaving them off in a minor procedure done in the office.

Moles Locations & Physicians

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Moles Support Services

If you are wondering whether you should have a mole examined, the websites below can help you decide whether you should visit your physician.