Moles, or nevi (plural; singular is nevus) are common formations caused by clusters of melanocytes, or pigment-producing cells. It is common for babies to be born with one or a few moles, and for others to develop during the early years. This is typically not a cause for concern; most people have between 10 and 40 moles on their body. Most moles that appear at birth or shortly after are not cancerous, nor do they pose a significant risk for becoming cancerous.
Types of Moles
Medical specialists categorize nevi by when they appear, what they look like and their risk of becoming cancerous.
- Congenital moles – often called birthmarks because they are present a birth.
- Acquired moles – these are common moles that appear after birth, and can appear at any time.
- Atypical moles – these also appear at any time, but they more closely resemble melanoma, a type of skin cancer.
There are numerous types of moles that can fall into each of these categories. In some rare cases, large moles are present at birth, or develop shortly thereafter, and cause aesthetic concerns or physical difficulties. A mole formed on an eyelid or at the bend of a joint would be such a case. One type of mole, known as a congenital melanocytic nexus, is quite large and colored dark brown or black, making it highly noticeable. In fact, they can occur in size larger than a person’s hand, and can sometimes cover large portions of the body.
These or other moles will warrant professional treatment to reduce their size and appearance, or to remove them completely. The specialists at Vascular Birthmark Institute have vast experience removing all manner of problematic moles from small children and adults. After an evaluation, we can explain the best options for treatment or removal of a troublesome nevus from your child your yourself.
When to Be Concerned About Moles
Most moles are benign, or harmless, even when they form later after birth or later in life. However, new moles are more likely to become cancerous than older, familiar moles. In fact, after reviewing case studies in 2017, a study found that almost 80% of melanomas came from a newly formed mole.
If you notice a new mole has formed on your child as they grow, keep an eye on it for any noticeable changes. Your pediatrician or a dermatologist can examine moles and refer you to us for more professional-grade treatment if necessary.
A common guide to evaluating new moles at home, on yourself and on your children, is the ABCDE method. Follow this basic guide:
- A – asymmetrical shape
- B – irregular borders
- C – different colors or changes color
- D – grows larger than ¼ inch in diameter
- E – continues to evolve in size, color, thickness or shape
Any new nevus that displays any of the above characteristics, or otherwise raises concerns (such as being easy to bleed) should be evaluated by medical professionals as soon as possible. Contact us at the Vascular Birthmark Institute in New York City for a consultation and evaluation of a worrisome mole on your child.