A mole (nevus) is a pigmented (colored) spot on the outer layer of the skin (epidermis). Moles can be round, oval, flat or raised. They can occur singly or in clusters on any part of the body. Most moles are brown, but colors can range from pinkish flesh tones to yellow, dark blue or black. Most people have at least a few moles. Usually, other than during puberty and pregnancy, a mole’s color and shape do not change.

If you have moles, it’s a good idea to have them checked by a dermatologist, especially if you notice any changes to them. A changing mole can be a cause for concern and should always be brought to your doctor’s attention. While it’s normal to develop new growths as we get older, a recent change in a mole’s appearance, such as darkening in color or rapid growth, or new symptoms, like itching or bleeding, could indicate that it’s turning into a skin cancer. Your doctor may recommend a skin biopsy to remove the growth and send it to the lab to find out what it is. This is a fairly simple procedure that can be done in the office under local anesthesia (similar to the numbing you get at the dentist).

Although it may sound scary, when skin cancer is caught early, it is nearly 100% curable. It is important to check your moles regularly for changes in their appearance.

Dr. Holy in Phoenix recommends using the ABC’s of moles to determine if they need further examination:

A – Asymmetry

B – Border irregularity

C – Color variations: blue, brown or black, sometimes white or red spots

D – Diameter: greater than six millimeters (the size of a pencil eraser)

E – Elevation: raised above the surface of the skin

If you’ve never had your moles checked or if you notice any of the changes listed above, contact Dr. Holy promptly for an evaluation. Contact The Center for Advanced Dermatology today at 602-867-7546 or mddermsolutions.com to schedule an appointment.