Atypical Moles

Atypical MolesMoles are very common. They may be pink, tan, brown, or a color similar to the person’s normal skin tone. Moles can be flat or raised. Many are caused by sun exposure.

Atypical moles are often large, have an odd shape and can show more than one color. Atypical or dysplastic moles can look like melanoma. In fact, people who have them are at increased risk of developing melanomas. The higher the number of atypical moles someone has the higher the risk of developing a melanoma.

If you have atypical moles should be seen regularly by a dermatologist to check for any changes that might indicate skin cancer. You should also perform a monthly skin self-exam looking for changes in color, size, or shape of moles, or the appearance of new moles. You should shield your moles from sun exposure using sunscreen and protective clothing.

Recognizing the early warning signs of melanoma is important. Remember the ABCDE of melanoma when examining your moles.


  • One half of the mole does not match the other half

  • The border or edges of the mole are blurred or irregular

  • The color of mole is not the same throughout or has shades of tan, brown, black, red, white, or blue

  • The diameter of a mole is larger than 6mm, about the size of a pencil eraser

  • Moles changing over time
  • If the appearance of a mole worries you or if it changes suddenly, you should consult a dermatologist. To read more about atypical moles, visit

    Click here to return to the main list of services.