Moles: What are they?

Moles (melanocytic nevus) are a common and benign growth. Sometimes they are called beauty spots, or birthmarks. There is a wide variety of color, sizes, shapes, and numbers of moles that a person has, but most people will have several moles when they are young. There is a strong genetic factor in moles, and the tendency to grow a large number of moles seems to be a trait that is passed on. Moles appear most commonly in the first twenty years of a person's life and tend to grow at a very slow pace, but are otherwise not harmful. Many moles decline and gradually disappear after middle age.

Moles: Dangerous or not

Moles have gained an unfair reputation for being dangerous growths that need to be medically monitored. True moles are not dangerous. The fear of moles originates from the public's greater understanding of melanoma, a dangerous skin cancer that can sometimes resemble moles, especially a type of mole called dysplastic nevus, which is irregularly shaped and large. However, regular moles that are not large, inflamed, or changing do not need to be regarded with fear. Moles are not contagious, nor are they a type of skin cancer. However, if they present a cosmetic problem, or if there is reason to suspect that they may be a type of skin cancer, they can be surgically removed.

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