- The medical term for a mole is a NEVUS (mole is Latin for “spot”) Congenital nevi are moles present at birth; acquired nevi developed anything later. Nevi are made of a particular type of cell, and the name is used to distinguish them form other, similar appearing fleshy growths.
- Most moles acquired in life are usually less that 1 cm in size. Many of those that form in childhood and early adult life are now thought to be due to sun damage. Most people think of a mole as being a dark brown spot, but moles have a much wider range of appearance. They can be raised from the skin and very noticeable, or they may contain dark hairs. Moles can appear anywhere on the skin. Alone or in group. They usually are brown or black in color and can be various sizes and shapes. Special cells contain pigment melanin that cause the brown color.
- Facial moles are probably determined before a person is born. Some may not appear until later in life, but moles that appear after age 50 should be regarded with suspicion. Moles may darken, which can happen after exposure to the sun, pregnancy and sometimes during therapy with certain steroid drugs. There is little risk of melanoma cancer developing in these moles particularly in Asian community.
- Only a few babies, about 1 in 100, are born with mole, the congenital nevus These can vary in size from being less than 1cm. to covering almost the entire body. Large nevi can vary greatly in size, shape, color, surface texture, and hairiness. Some are reddish-brown, others are almost black. Most are shades of brown. Some have few many hairs; many have long, thick, darker hair.
- Nevi measuring 4 inches (10cm) or more at birth occur in about one in every 20,000 children. Giant congenital nevi involving much of the surface are less common, possibly around one in every 200,000 to 500,000 births.
- Congenital moles will grow in proportion to body growth. Their color may stay the same, lighten slowly, or darken slowly over time. Changes in growth, in color, in surface texture, pain, bleeding, or itching are all of concern. Any such changes should be evaluated medically if they last longer than a few weeks.
- Improving cosmetic appearance is another reason for excision, but all surgery leaves some scarring. Smaller nevi can be “shaved off”. Larger ones can be cut out directly and the wound edge sewn together. Much larger Nevi need a plastic surgeon’s Consultation.