Moles quite commonly appear in the first year of life. Most are a coffee color, usually raised; some are smooth and flat, with a bit of downy hair growing in them. Some look a bit like a wart. Moles may be either benign (non-cancerous) or dark-pigmented and cancerous (termed malignant melanomas). Nearly everybody has several moles on their skin. Some people have dozens, even hundreds of them. They are not present at birth, but develop during life. During puberty, when hormonal changes take place and rapid growth occurs, they have a tendency to develop at a fairly rapid rate. Flat brownish skin may often become raised at this time, and may develop hairs. During pregnancy, moles frequently develop, or existing ones may increase in size.
With old age, moles often tend to disappear. Fortunately the majority of moles is innocuous, and never develops into anything serious. The coffee-colored ones so often seen with hairs growing from their depths are usually benign, and remain that way throughout life.
Moles should be left, and not treated. What is more, it’s best not to prod or fiddle with them, and they should never be picked with the fingernails. Sometimes if the child finds them an embarrassment, they may be removed, or covered with cosmetic masking products.
Occasionally a mole will assume a deeper, more pigmented discoloration, probably dark blue or even black. These are potential troublemakers, and require immediate expert medical attention. Some are referred to skin clinics where they are treated in a special way after diagnosis.
A dark mole may develop into a very sinister and very serious life threatening form of cancer that grows rapidly and spreads early. They are aggravated by the hot summer sunshine, and for these reasons are common in Australia, especially in northern states, where body exposure to the hot sun is a national pastime, especially with children and teenagers. Exposure during the first 10 years of life is critical, so parents – please supervise your children when outdoors. Melanoma kills around 800 people in Australia each year and the figure is increasing dramatically.
A dark-colored mole may suddenly grow in size. A ring of color may develop around the base, or pigmentation in the mole may be uneven. Hairs may fall from it, and ulceration and bleeding may occur. The latter is a late and very serious sign. Seeking prompt medical attention from the doctor or skin specialist is essential with any darkening of skin moles.