Moles & Mole Removal


Moles, or nevi, are collections of pigment producing cells called melanocytes which, when normal are perfectly harmless.

How can I tell when a mole is not okay?

Think A, B, C, D & E

  • A for A If you fold the mole in half, you get two unequal halves
  • B for Border irregularities such as notching or smudging
  • C for Color variability such as variable shades of tan, brown, red, gray, brown, black, blue, white
  • D for Diameter greater than 6 mm or wider than a pencil eraser
  • E for Evolution or any change in size, shape or color, or symptoms such as itching, bleeding, ulceration or pain. Keep in mind, any change is significant.

Any of the above can be a sign that the skin lesion in question is a malignant melanoma rather than a mole and should be evaluated by a dermatologist as soon as possible.

Other moles: atypical nevi

A mole is called a nevus, moles are called nevi.  There are other moles called atypical nevi, which have variable degrees of abnormality, but not enough to call them malignant melanomas. Decisions regarding whether atypical nevi need to be excised should be made on an individual basis depending on an individual’s risks and the degree of atypia in that nevus. What is clear about atypical nevi is that they are markers for increased risk for the development of melanoma in those who have them. The risk increases in those  with additional risk factors for melanoma.

Mole evaluations

The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends checking your entire skin on a regular basis so you get to know where your moles are and what they look like. We recommend that you start out with a full body skin exam performed by a board certified dermatologist to make sure you do not have any abnormal moles to begin with. Your doctor will tell you how often you should have these exams. Once a month you should use a body diagram and try to chart any moles or spots you have. If there is any question about any one of your moles, or if a new spot appears, have it evaluated by a professional.   Caution: It is dangerous to try to self diagnose skin spots using the Internet as a substitute for professional help and you could be risking your life.

Only board certified dermatologists will evaluate and advise on skin lesions at Dermatology STL.