Melanocytic Nevus (Mole)

This patient information and photographs on Moles provided by John L. Meisenheimer, M.D. a board certified Dermatologist and skin care specialist based in Orlando, Florida. This information is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice or treatment of a dermatologist or other physician.

What is it?

Melanocytic Nevus (Mole)Melanocytic nevi are some of the most common growths that occur on the skin. In general terms these are often referred to as moles, beauty spots or birthmarks. Melanocytic nevi can be present at birth or around the time of birth. These tend to be larger moles and are referred to as congenital nevi. During childhood “regular moles” may begin to appear. Typically they are skin color to dark brown, flat to dome shaped growths that can appear anywhere on the skin. The average person has 15-20 melanocytic nevi.

What causes it?

Genetics play a role in the formation of melanocytic nevi. Some families have a tendency to develop more moles than others. 

Is it dangerous?

Melanocytic Nevus (Mole)They are harmless, but sometimes they can be difficult to tell from skin cancer by lay persons. This can be especially true for a type of mole called a dysplastic nevus. Any growth that suddenly changes in size, color, shape, bleeds, itches on a regular basis or becomes inflamed or irritated needs to be evaluated by a dermatologist. Although I remove many of them for cosmetic reasons, removal is not necessary unless they are irritated, inflamed or suspicious. 

Can it be cured?

Melanocytic Nevus (Mole)Melanocytic nevi are easily removed, but insurance considers this cosmetic unless they are inflamed, irritated or clinically suspicious. Some Melanocytic nevi may re-grow after removal, but most do not. I have several techniques that I use to remove these growths. I try to choose a technique that gives the best cosmetic result for each growth depending on its size and location. Click here for information on cosmetic removals.

Will it spread?

New ones usually continue to appear throughout life.

Is it contagious?

Melanocytic nevi are not contagious and you can not “catch” them from anyone.

© John “Lucky” Meisenheimer, M.D.  2019