Moles are very common, especially in those with fair skin, with over 3 million cases accounted for in the United States annually. Moles are the result of overgrown skin cells known as melanocytes appearing as small, dark brown spots caused by the pigment in those cells. Moles, also called birthmarks or beauty marks, are quite common and considered normal. In fact, on average, most people have between 10 to 40 moles on their skin developing anywhere on the body including the scalp, armpits, and even between the fingers and toes. Moles are generally harmless and are not a cause for concern unless there are changes in size, shape, color or texture of the mole in which case it would be necessary to visit with a dermatologist to determine whether the mole has become cancerous.
If moles are common, what causes a person to have a lot of moles? Some moles, known as congenital nevi, are present at birth or develop during infancy. These moles are almost always non-cancerous. Most moles appear in early childhood and during the first 25 years of a person’s life. Heredity is thought to be the largest contributor to the development of moles. Similar numbers of moles seem to develop on familial generations, so it is possible family history causes a person to have a lot of moles, or the specific number of moles, but studies are still inconclusive. Moles often occur on parts of the body exposed to the sun or ultraviolet radiation, increasing the number of moles on a person’s skin. It is also common for new moles to appear as hormone level change, for example during adolescence and pregnancy. Certain medications that suppress the immune system can also trigger a response from the body in the form of moles on the skin.
Having a lot of moles or noticing an increase of moles on your skin can be indicative of particularly active skin cells. The greater number of moles would increase the likelihood of skin cancer, so it is encouraged to meet with your dermatologist for a skin screening to determine if your moles are of normal size, shape, color and texture.
Do not let your skin get you stressed. While moles are normal, it is always best to get an expert diagnosis from a dermatologist who can examine your skin and prescribe any necessary course of treatment. At THE CENTER for Advanced Dermatology, we recommend a professional skin examination once a year. Contact our office today to schedule your exam by calling 602-867-7546 or visiting online at WEBSITE.