Q: Are moles on my new baby potentially dangerous?
A: Only about 1 percent of infants are born with a mole. Moles are pigmented cells that cluster together and are known as a “congenital nevus.” If born with them, they can be brown, tan or pink in color but can also look like a blue-grayish bruise. They are usually oval or round and about the size of pencil eraser. A congenital nevus is typically harmless unless it is really large (bigger than 8 inches), in which case the risk of developing melanoma over the first five or ten years of life increase by as much as 10 percent and must be followed by a dermatologist.
Some people have a genetic tendency toward developing moles and also malignant melanoma. Those who have fair freckled skin and who play or spend a lot of time outdoors and who have a family history of history are more likely to have moles that develop into skin cancer due to sun exposure. The cardinal signs of potentially malignant moles are ones that have an irregular shape (asymmetric), jagged edges, are uneven in color, and are larger than the size of a pencil eraser.
I encourage parents to check their child’s moles bi-monthly to detect changes and suggest that they mark the moles on a body illustration or take photos to record their location, shape, size and color. Don’t forget to look on the scalp, palms, nails and between the fingers and toes, as well as, areas that are frequently exposed to the sun, such as the face, arms, legs, neck, chest, back and ears. Don’t forget to use broad-spectrum (UVA & UVB) sunscreen on a daily basis to protect your child from the suns harmful rays. I encourage parents to take their child to a dermatologist for evaluation of any suspicious moles on your child’s body. Earlier detection will always have a better cure rate.
- Josh Fox, MD
Joshua L. Fox, M.D., F.A.A.D., is a leading authority in the field of dermatology, with an expertise in skin cancer, acne, cosmetic surgery and laser procedures. He is the founder and director of Advanced Dermatology, P.C. of New York and New Jersey and the Center for Laser and Cosmetic Surgery and is a spokesman for both the American Academy of Dermatology and the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery.