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Causes of Changes in Mole Color and Size

Written and reviewed by
Dermatologist, Delhi  •  19 years experience
Causes of Changes in Mole Color and Size

A common mole is a form of growth on the surface of the skin. It occurs when the skin pigment cells or melanocytes grow in clusters. Moles are common in most adults and occur in places and areas, which are most exposed to the sun. Moles may be present from birth or may appear at a later stage. Moles develop until the age of forty.

Moles are generally round or oval in shape and their surface is smooth with distinct edges. They are dome shaped. Common moles are pink, tan or brown in color. People with dark skin complexion develop dark-colored moles.

Sometimes, moles may change in color and shape. This might be an indication of a skin cancer condition known as Melanoma.

Here are the indications that a mole is cancerous in nature:

  1. When the color of the mole changes
  2. When the mole becomes smaller or bigger in an uneven manner
  3. When the shape, texture or height of a mole changes
  4. When the skin around the mole turns dry and scaly
  5. When the mole starts itching
  6. When there is bleeding or oozing from the mole

Features of Melanoma:
Changes in the shape, size, color or feeling of an existing mole are an indication of Melanoma. The features of this condition can be observed by the changes that occur in the mole. The 'ABCDE' rule can be used to define the features:

  1. Asymmetry: This means that the shape of one half of the mole is not matching with the other half.
  2. Irregular border: The borders or edges are ragged, notched and the outline seems blurred. There are chances that the pigment might spread to the surrounding skin surface.
  3. Uneven color: This indicates that the mole may be of uneven colors. There might be shades of black, brown, tan and also areas of red, white, gray, pink or blue.
  4. Mole diameter: There is a change in the size and diameter of a mole in cases of Melanoma. Usually, the size increases. Some Melanoma moles may be tiny, but most are wider than six millimeters.
  5. Evolving: There is an evolution over weeks and months, where the changes in appearance occur. Moles that lead to Melanoma vary a lot. Some cases of Melanoma may have all the above mentioned features while other cases may indicate two or three of the features.

When moles change in color and size, it is because of Melanoma. Several tests have to be carried out to detect whether a mole is cancerous or not, and after that, medical measures must be taken. Melanoma is a serious form of skin cancer and should be attended to immediately.

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