The growth of moles (dark spots) on skin is completely normal and nothing which should cause concern in most cases. Many people have moles in one or more places on their bodies. These dark spots can be very tiny, or they can be relatively large. Moles can be hereditary and run in families, and sometimes people are born with them. Moles can also develop later in life, and they can change over time as well.
Benign versus cancerous moles
The majority of moles are benign, meaning they are not cancerous and do not harm the body. However, some moles can be cancerous and can spread through the body if not treated. Most skin cancers can be cured completely if caught in the very early stages.
Moles that may be cause for concern
Any time a mole changes in color, size or appearance, there is cause for concern. A mole that turns darker, develops black spots or turns completely black, becomes speckled with color, or shows pink or red spots is usually removed. Moles that grow bigger in size over a short period of time or significantly change in appearance can also be problem. Moles should not develop white rings around the edges. Moles should also not hurt, itch, become irritated or bleed. If any of these should occur with an existing mole, it is always wise to have a physician determine if the mole is problematic and should be removed.
Moles that do not appear normal are labeled atypical or dysplastic. Some families seem to carry a hereditary gene which causes a higher occurrence of atypical or dysplastic moles and are more prone to skin cancer. People within families of high incidences of skin cancer should be more aware of changing moles and seek treatment promptly for any they find.
Removal of moles
Upon evaluation, a physician may choose to remove a mole. Moles can be removed through cutting (excision) or burning (excision with cauterization). When cutting a mole, the physician may need to use stitches if the incision is long enough. Sometimes stitches are not necessary. The removal of a mole through burning involves using a tool that burns the layers of the mole off the skin. Both of these procedures are relatively painless, but a local pain medication is typically used for these processes. The entire removal process can take up to an hour (mostly due to waiting for the pain medication to take effect) but rarely exceeds an hour.
When a mole is removed, a scar may be left behind. The size and the scope of the mole will usually determine whether the excision will leave a scar. A skilled physician may be able to remove a mole without leaving a scar, but sometimes there is just no way the mole can be removed without leaving a blemish.