What are moles?
Moles are common harmless collections of pigmented cells called melanocytes on the skin.  Most moles are present on the torso, but they are also commonly found on the face, arms and legs. Moles can also be present in more obscure locations such as the scalp, under the nails, in the armpits and around the genitals.  In rare cases, moles can be cancerous.

Can anyone get moles?
Nearly everyone has 10 to 50 moles on their body.   Most appear during the first 20 years of life.   It is thought that sun exposure increases the number of moles the skin creates.

People with many more moles than average (greater than 100) are more at risk for melanoma, as well as people with a family history of melanoma.  If there is a family history of melanoma, a monthly self-examination of moles is recommended along with an office visit to your dermatologist. Your dermatologist may recommend annual office visits for a skin examination depending on what he/she finds on your initial examination.

What is the treatment for moles?
The most common methods to remove a mole include numbing the spot and then shaving it off, or for some moles, cutting into the entire lesion and stitching it closed.  Most procedures used to remove moles take only a brief time and can be performed in the dermatologist's office.  Sometimes a mole will recur after it is removed.  If a removed mole does begin to reappear, the patient should return to see the doctor.

If a mole is found to be cancerous, the entire mole and a margin of normal tissue around it needs to be removed.    Treatment of most moles usually isn't necessary unless it is becoming irritated or it has suddenly grown or changed.   For cosmetic reasons, a mole can be removed by your doctor.