Moles are usually harmless collections of pigmented cells called melanocytes on your skin. They are correctly called melanocytic naevi and can appear alone or there may be many. Most moles are present on the trunk, but they can also be on your face, arms and legs. They can be present in more obscure locations as well such as the scalp, under the nails and in the area usually hidden by underwear. A brown or black mole contains the pigment melanin, so may also be called a pigmented naevus.
Is it normal to have Moles?
Most white-skinned Irish have 20–50 moles.Fair-skinned people tend to have more moles than darker skinned people. New moles may appear up to the age of 30-40 years, but most appear by age 20. People with many moles tend to have family members that also have many moles, and their moles may have a similar appearance. Some disappear with advancing age. About 1% of individuals are born with one or more congenital melanocytic naevi. Moles that are acquired later in childhood or adult life often follow sun exposure. Moles that appear during childhood (aged 2 to 10 years) tend to be the most prominent and persistent moles throughout life. It’s important to become familiar with the moles on your skin because, in rare cases, they can become cancerous moles. Melanoma also can arise in areas of normal pigmentation.
Several types have a higher than average risk of becoming cancerous. The ones that are larger than average — which is about 1/4 inch (6 millimeters) or the diameter of the end of a pencil— and irregular in shape are known as atypical (dysplastic) naevi. These tend to be hereditary. They are frequently described as looking like fried eggs because they usually have dark brown centers and lighter, uneven borders. Overall, they may look red or tan coloured. If you have dysplastic naevi, you have a greater risk of developing malignant melanoma.
Large moles that are present at birth are called congenital naevi or giant hairy naevi. These may increase your risk of malignant melanoma. In general, ones that are more than the size of an adult open palm pose the greatest risk. Any mole that was present at birth and is palm-sized or larger should be examined by an expert.
What are the Clinical Features of Moles?
They may arise on any part of the body.
Moles differ in appearance depending on the body site of origin.
They may be flat or protruding.
They vary in colour from pink or flesh tones to dark brown, steel blue, or black.
Light skinned individuals tend to have light-coloured moles and dark skinned individuals tend to have dark brown or black moles.
Although mostly round or oval in shape, moles are sometimes unusual shapes.
They range in size from a couple of millimetres to several centimetres in diameter.
Your Mole Removal at the Ailesbury Clinic: Consultation €150, Mole Removal € 350
If you have any moles that Dr Treacy considers suspicious then he can discuss with you a treatment plan. Moles are normally removed and examined by dedicated skin histopathologists at St. Vincent’s University Hospital. This cost is covered by VHI, Laya, Aviva Health if you have medical insurance.