Normal, Atypical and Malignant Nevi
Nevi, or moles, are skin lesions that often begin to grow in childhood, or have appeared on the skin by early adult life. Nevi may go unnoticed, or they may become a nuisance by rubbing against clothing and getting in the way of shaving.
- Appear 6 to 12 months after birth
- Expand in proportion to body growth
- Smaller than 5 mm in diameter
- Evenly pigmented or symmetrically speckled tan or brown
- Discrete, well-demarcated, smooth borders
- Number 10 to 40; scattered over the entire body
- Enlarge and increase in number during childhood and puberty
- More prominent during pregnancy
- Present on sun-exposed surfaces above the waist
- Do not appear on the scalp, breast, and buttocks
Atypical (Dysplastic) Nevi
- Intermediate between acquired moles and melanoma (gross and microscopic appearance)
- Greater than 5 mm in diameter
- Raised in the center and flat at the edges
- Darkly or irregularly pigmented
- Multiple shades of brown of pink
- Irregular borders, with notches, fade into the surrounding skin
- Single or multiple (max exceed 100)
- Look very different, one from the other
- Seen on sun-exposed areas—the back is the most common site
- Occur below the waist and on the scalp, breast, and buttocks
A severely dysplastic nevus is indistinguishable from early melanoma.
- Asymmetric, irregular borders (scalloped, notched, or angular)
- Mixture of variegated colors (tan, brown, pink, white, or dark black)
- Pigments spread into the surrounding skin
- Usually at least 5 mm in diameter (often much larger)
- Abnormal surface (scaling, crusting, oozing, or bleeding)
- Symptoms of itching, pain, tenderness
- Surrounded by abnormal skin (erythematous, inflamed, altered pigmentation)
It is essential that you speak with your dermatologist if you detect any of the signs of atypical or malignant lesions. Digital dermatoscopy, a noninvasive method allowing evaluation of colors and microstructures nevi takes only minutes.
Visit our Mole Removal page to learn about laser assisted excisions of skin lesions.