A 3 Minute Guide To Moles

July 28, 2019


A “mole check” is one of the most common reasons to visit a dermatologist. Dermatologists are trained to examine and diagnose moles which look suspicious for cancer.

A “mole check” is one of the most common reasons to visit a dermatologist. Dermatologists are trained to examine and diagnose moles which look suspicious for cancer.

Moles are made up of the pigment cells (melanocytes) which produce the dark pigment (melanin) that gives the skin its colour. Melanocytes clustered together form a mole (also known as naevus). Moles vary in colour in different skin tones, and can be found anywhere on the skin, including on the hands and feet, genitals, nails and scalp. It can even appear in the eye.

Moles appear as flat or slightly raised light to dark brown or black lesions. Slight pigment variation and increased hairs may be seen. With time, they can become thicker.

Some moles are present at birth or appear within the first two years of life and are known as congenital melanocytic naevi. Most develop during childhood and early adult life are called acquired melanocytic naevi. The number of moles increases up to the age of 30-40.

New moles appearing in adulthood need to be monitored and checked if growing or changing.

What Can Happen To Your Mole?

There is a slightly increased risk of cancerous change (malignant melanoma) in all moles, in particular large moles of>20cm in diameter. Most of the time though, moles remain benign.

Dysplastic naevus, may look like a melanoma. When examined closely under the microscope, it contains abnormal cells and there is a potential for these abnormal cells to transform into melanoma. While moles can change in size and shape during puberty and pregnancy, any changes to moles should be looked at by your dermatologist.

If a mole is deemed to have changed and has suspicious features, your dermatologist may recommend for it to be removed for histological analysis to rule out malignant change. The surgical method will depend on the mole’s size and site, and potential cosmetic outcomes.

What Should I Look Out For In My Mole?

  • Self-examination and examination of your skin with help from a close family member would be advisable if you have multiple moles or risk factors for skin cancers.
  • Our clinic provides mole mapping services if you are at risks of developing skin cancers. Annual skin checks by a qualified dermatologist are recommended for Caucasians with fair skin.
  • Suspicious features that need to be observed for are:
    • A: Asymmetry
    • B: Borders (irregular, blurred)
    • C: Colour (varying colours)
    • D: Diameter (more than 6mm)
    • E: Evolution (changing over time)

ABCDE of moles

How Do I Protect Myself From UV Rays?

  • The catch phrase is Slip! Slop! Slap! And Wrap!:
    • Slip on a shirt.
    • Slop on sunscreen. Advisable to use sunscreens with at least SPF 30 and protection against UVA and repeat application 4 hourly.
    • Slap on a hat.
    • Wrap on sunglasses to protect the eyes and skin around them.
  • In tropical weather, avoidance of direct sun during mid-day between 10am – 4pm is advisable.

SOG - HM Liew Skin & Laser Clinic

Gleneagles Medical Centre
6 Napier Road, #06-01
Singapore 258499

Clinic Hours:
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday
8am to 1pm
2pm to 5pm

Wednesday and Saturday
8am to 12pm

Contact Information
T: +65 6254 6646
F: +65 6259 9853