Most moles will normally change over time. They may
gradually become larger or raised, develop a hair, grow lighter, fade away
completely, or fall off. However, some changes in moles or skin growths are
Early detection and
treatment of skin cancer can prevent complications. Early signs of
melanoma (a serious type of skin cancer) involve a
change in a mole or other skin growth. These early signs are described in the
ABCDE system (Asymmetry, Border,
Color, Diameter, Evolution).
Asymmetry is present when
one side or half of the mole looks very different than the other side or
The edges or borders of the mole may
turn jagged or scalloped (irregular borders).
Color may turn dark, black or, less often, red, white, or
blue. A part of the mole may lose color, or the mole may develop a mix of
colors. Color may spread from the edge of a mole into surrounding
The size of the mole (diameter) may
rapidly increase. The mole is usually wider than a pencil eraser [6 mm (0.2 in.)] but may be
There is a change (evolution) in
the size, shape, symptoms (such as itching or tenderness), surface (especially
bleeding), or color of a mole.
A skin growth may be a cause for concern if:
A flat mole becomes thicker or
The mole becomes scaly, worn down (eroded), or crusted, or
it oozes or bleeds.
Skin around the mole becomes red or swollen or
develops new patches of color.
The spot itches, tingles, or
Pieces of skin become too soft and break off easily.
Later signs of a melanoma include:
Development of an open sore (ulcer).
A mole or colored skin spot that becomes painful or bleeds.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.