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Mole on woman's back.

Mole on woman's back.
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What are moles?

Moles are small, dark marks that appear on your skin. They are usually round in shape and can sometimes be raised from the skin.

Most moles are harmless but some types can develop into skin cancer. This is usually caused by long periods of exposure to the sun.

If you have a mole you should:

  • avoid scratching or picking it – keeping children’s finger nails short and trimmed may help stop them scratching their moles
  • if your mole is in a vulnerable area where it could be knocked or scraped against something, you should try to protect it
  • try to keep it out of direct sunlight as much as possible. Read about sun safety and sunburn prevention in this article.

Checking your moles

It’s important to look out for any changes to the shape, size and colour of your moles. You should see your doctor if you become concerned about any moles or if you notice any changes.

You should check your moles regularly and look out for the following:

  • changes to the size and shape of your moles
  • any changes to the colour of a mole – look out for moles that have several colours or shades
  • any bleeding, soreness, itching or inflammation
  • a crusty or flaky appearance developing
  • new moles which look different or unusual.

Not sure what to do next?

If you are still concerned about your moles, why not use healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).

Last reviewed: July 2015

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Found 20 results

Skin Check - Skin Cancer Clinic

The aim of the skin check is to make an early diagnosis of skin cancer & melanoma whilst keeping biopsy rate as low as possible. A full skin check is a head ...

Read more on My Skin Check website

Moles - ACD

Moles are normal overgrowths of pigment-producing cells called melanocytes. They are not normally present at birth but appear in childhood and early teenage years.

Read more on Australasian College of Dermatologists website

Atypical Mole - Skin Cancer Clinic

Atypical Mole (Atypical nevus) may be part of the Atypical Mole Syndrome with an increased risk of melanoma.

Read more on My Skin Check website

Kids' Health - Topics - Freckles and moles

If you are very fair skinned or you have red hair you are likely to have freckles or 'sun kisses' as they are sometimes called.

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

Check for signs and symptoms of skin cancer - Cancer Council Australia

Is it a mole or is it skin cancer? Learn how to check yourself for skin cancers and recognise signs of melanoma and other types of skin cancer.

Read more on Cancer Council Australia website

Melanoma -

Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. Most melanomas arise as a new spot on previously normal skin, rather than from a pre-existing mole.

Read more on myDr website

Checking for skin cancer - SunSmart

Skin cancer found early can be usually be successfully treated. However if left untreated, skin cancer can be fatal.

Read more on Cancer Council Victoria website

Types of skin cancer

There are 3 types of skin cancer and they are named after the type of skin cell they start from. These are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma skin cancer.

Read more on WA Health website

Melanoma - Cancer Council Australia

What is melanoma and what symptoms should you look out for? Find out all the evidence based facts from Cancer Council here.

Read more on Cancer Council Australia website

Prevention is better than cure | Women's Health Queensland Wide

Having regular health checks throughout life can help keep the doctor away.

Read more on Women's Health Queensland Wide website

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