Moles & Nevi


A common mole is a growth on the skin that develops when pigment cells (melanocytes) grow in clusters. Most adults have between 10 and 40 common moles. These growths are usually found above the waist on areas exposed to the sun. They are seldom found on the scalp, breast, or buttocks. Although common moles may be present at birth, they usually appear later in childhood. Most people continue to develop new moles until about age 40. In older people, common moles tend to fade away. Another name for a mole is a nevus. The plural is nevi.


You can do some things to prevent moles from becoming melanomas:

1. Try to avoid long periods of time in the sun and severe sunburn. The sun is especially dangerous between 11:00 a.m and 3:00 p.m.

2. Use a broad spectrum, water-resistant sun block lotion with an SPF of 30 or greater. A broad spectrum lotion blocks both UVA and UVB rays from the sun.

3.Take advantage of shade whenever possible. Have your child wear a broad-brimmed hat.

4. Don’t let your child use tanning beds.

5. Be aware of the moles your child has. Check them regularly and call the dermatologist if you notice any changes.

NEVI (atypical moles) are unusual, benign moles which resemble melanoma and indicate an increased risk. It has been well documented in the medical literature that a small percentage of dysplastic nevi will grow melanoma. Complete removal of dysplastic nevus (plural nevi) eliminates this risk in that mole only.