Moles & Birthmarks

What are moles?

Moles, also known as nevi, are very common. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, almost all adults have somewhere between 10-40 moles that typically appear during childhood and early adolescence. Heredity plays a large role in your skin and moles.

Common (normal) moles are circular in shape and symmetrical. They are one color (usually tan, brown, or black) and do not change in size, shape, or color over time. They are usually not cause for concern, however you may be at a greater risk of developing melanoma if you have a lot of moles and/or a family history of skin cancer. That is why it is important to monitor your skin at home and keep a record of any changes, or any new moles that appear. Pay extra close attention to moles that:

  • Are larger than six millimeters in diameter 
  • Itch or bleed 
  • Change rapidly in color, size, and/or shape
  • Display multiple colors 

As these can be a sign of skin cancer.


Staying on top of your regular full body skin exams is key to early detection of skin cancer and other skin diseases.

Birthmarks are also common, and typically not a cause for concern. They appear at birth or shortly thereafter and may fade over time. They range in size and color and can be raised or flat. While there are many different types of birthmarks, generally we categorize birthmarks as vascular, or pigmented.

Treatment is not usually needed for birthmarks, however, depending on the patient’s age and other factors, removal may be an option for some patients.