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Childhood Moles & Melanoma

 

Moles may be present at or may develop during childhood or young adulthood. Moles tend to increase in number during the first two decades of life, and sun exposure can stimulate the body to make more moles. Melanoma is more common in adults but occasionally develops in teenagers.


Moles (Nevi)

Moles are common, raised or flat skin lesions that contain an increased number of melanocytes, pigment cells that make color pigment. Moles are most often tan or brown in color, but sometimes they can be skin-colored, pink, or even blue.

Moles may be present at birth (congenital melanocytic nevi; see below) or may develop during childhood or young adulthood. Moles tend to increase in number during the first two decades of life, and sun exposure can stimulate the body to make more moles.


Congenital melanocytic nevi

These are benign moles that are present at birth or within the first few weeks of life. They have an increased risk for transformation to melanoma. The risk correlates with their size therefore they are categorized based on their (projected adulthood) size. Management of these lesions require consideration of melanoma risk, patient's age, aesthetic, treatment risks, and psychosocial aspects. Most small and medium-sized lesions are managed with baseline photography and regular follow-ups. If treatment is needed, excision/removal is recommended as first choice.


Melanoma

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that can be deadly if it spreads throughout the body. Therefore, early detection and removal of a melanoma is very important. Melanoma is more common in adults but occasionally develops in teenagers, especially those with risk factors. Risk factors for melanoma in teenagers includes 1) having many moles (>50-100) and a 2) family history of melanoma.


If you have any concerns about your child’s moles make an appointment with Dr. Heidi for a full skin exam.