Common types of moles and what to look out for

Moles, or melanocytic naevi, are common skin growths composed of clusters of melanocytes, the cells that produce pigment. They typically appear as small, dark brown spots but can vary in colour and size. Moles can develop anywhere on the skin, alone or in groups, and usually emerge during childhood or adolescence, although new moles can form later in life.

Common Types of Moles
1. Junctional Naevus: These moles occur at the junction of the epidermis and dermis. They are usually flat, symmetrical, and uniformly pigmented, often appearing as small, dark spots.

2. Compound Naevus: These moles involve melanocytes in both the epidermis and dermis. They are typically raised, with pigmentation that can be even or uneven, and vary in colour from light brown to black.

3. Intradermal Naevus: These moles are found entirely within the dermis. They are usually skin-coloured or light brown, dome-shaped, and may be hairy. They tend to appear in adulthood.

4. Blue Naevus: Characterized by their distinctive blue or blue-black colour, these moles are due to pigment deep within the dermis. They are usually small, firm, and slightly raised.

5. Spitz Naevus: These moles are usually pink, raised, and dome-shaped, resembling melanoma. They often occur in children and adolescents and can sometimes be confused with malignant melanoma.

6. Halo Naevus: These moles are characterized by a white halo surrounding a central nevus. The central mole may eventually disappear, leaving the depigmented halo, which often re-pigments over time.

7. Dysplastic Naevus: Also known as atypical moles, these are larger than ordinary moles and have irregular borders and uneven colour. They can be a marker for increased melanoma risk and should be monitored closely.

The ABCDE Rule
The ABCDE rule is a guideline for self-checking moles and skin lesions for signs of melanoma:
Asymmetry: One half of the mole does not match the other half.
Border: The edges are irregular, scalloped, or poorly defined.
Colour: The mole has varying colours such as shades of brown, black, white, red, or blue.
Diameter: Moles larger than 6mm (about the size of a pencil eraser) are concerning.
Evolving: Any change in size, shape, colour, or elevation, or any new symptom such as bleeding, itching, or crusting, may indicate melanoma.

Regular self-examinations using the ABCDE rule can help in early detection of skin cancer, potentially improving outcomes through earlier treatment.

If you are concerned about a mole or pigmented lesion, Lasersways offer a mole screening service, operated in partnership with Map My Mole, which provides an assessment of moles and pigmented lesions to help identify any that may be suspicious.