One of the most common skin growths is the mole. Technically called “melanocytic nevus” moles are lesions on the skin comprised of cells that have a high concentration of pigment. There are at least a dozen varieties of nevi, classified by their location and in the layers of skin and other characteristics such as color and size.
Nearly everyone has at least one mole. About one in every 100 babies is born with a mole. The majority of moles develop by the time we are 20 years old, and the average adult has between 30 and 40 body-wide. Moles may be raised or flat, and almost any color – black, brown, red, pink, blue, purplish, white, or flesh tone.
Benign (non-cancerous) moles are easily removed with modern techniques that minimize risk of scarring. We encourage everyone to schedule an annual mole examination. All patients are asked to watch moles for the ABCDEs of melanoma, a dangerous form of skin cancer:
- Asymmetry – Does half of the mole look different from the other half?
- Border – Is it irregular?
- Color – Is it uneven shades of brown and black, or an unusual color like red, white, or blue?
- Diameter – Is the mole larger than the eraser of pencil?
- Evolving – Has the mole changed in size, color, or shape, or become sore?
Other common benign lumps and bumps include:
- Acrochordons, known as skin tags.
- Dermatofibroma, raised pink or tan bumps which are mistaken for moles but are a type of scar often caused by an injury to an extremity.
- Dermatosis papulosa nigra, pigmented growths on the face and neck, common to dark-skinned races.
- Epidermal inclusion cysts, flesh colored nodules.
- Lipoma, soft, mobile fatty tumors.
- Pyogenic granuloma, nodules on the fingers, face, or lips that bleed easily.
- Sebaceous hyperplasia, yellowish enlargement of sebaceous glands, usually seen on the face.
- Seborrheic Keratoses, scaly brown papules, and plaques.