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How To Check Moles – ABCDE Rule – Types & Mole Removal

  • Private GP Services
  • Medically Reviewed By: Dr Farzad Entikabi MB BS MSc MRCS(Eng) MRCGP DFSRH
Moles Minor Skin Surgery

Check Your Moles

If you have moles, whether you have many or just one you will no doubt be aware of the potential risks associated with them. While it is rare for ‘common moles’ to turn into melanomas (skin cancer) and not all ‘atypical moles’ do either it is important to keep a close eye on them for any changes.

If you are concerned about a mole, you should consult a doctor as soon as possible.

The Different Types

  • Common Mole – or naevus – is a growth on the skin, formed by a cluster of melanocytes (the cells that make melanin, which gives colour to skin). They are typically about 5mm wide or smaller and round or oval in shape, often dome shaped, smooth and have a distinct edge. The colour can vary from person to person depending on their skin tone or hair colour, though the colour is usually uniform and even. Common moles can present as a pink colour to tan and brown.
  • Atypical Moles – or dysplastic naevus – is usually larger than 5mm wide with a less distinct, irregular edge and the borders can sometimes fade into the surrounding skin. They are usually flat with a smooth or scaly type surface. In contrast to common moles, dysplastic naevus can be a mixture of uneven colours from pink to very dark brown. Atypical moles or changes to a common mole should be reviewed by a doctor.


A handy guide to monitor your moles for changes is the ABCDE rule:

  • Asymmetry: Is the mole symmetrical? Look out for changes in pigment, texture or shape.
  • Border: A common mole will usually have smooth, even borders the normal skin begins around it. Look out for irregular borders or lack of clarity between the edge of the mole and the skin that surrounds it
  • Colour: Most common moles are a single shade of brown, so if a mole is showing a number of colours this should be reviewed.
  • Diameter: Melanomas are usually larger than 6 mm. If a mole is bigger than this or you notice its growing in size consider having it reviewed
  • Evolving features: Aside from the evolving changes above be aware of any new symptoms such as bleeding, itching or crusting that also warrant an assessment.


Don’t worry if you find the self-checking is a tricky process, or you’re really not sure if you have noticed any changes. Book an appointment with a GP who will be able to review your moles and determine if any should be removed or investigated further.

Also, if you have many moles or have moles in areas of the body that are difficult to monitor such as your back, you can find a mole mapping service to help you monitor your moles. Mole-mapping is a screening service carried out by a skin specialist, who maps out the moles on your skin by taking photographs that they can then refer to, to compare any changes in the appearance of your moles over time.

Mole Removal

After your review, if a mole is considered unusual or a possible melanoma your GP may suggest referral to a skin specialist (dermatologist) for further evaluation and possible excision biopsy where it is removed for microscopic analysis.

At Prime Health Partners Dr Farzad Entikabi and Dr Rebecca Hayes both have a special interest in skin issues and can help assess your moles and provide reassurance or referrals to specialists if necessary.

Dr Entikabi can also offer quick clinic based minor surgical skin procedures for the removal of common moles and other skin lumps and bumps for cosmetic or functional reasons.

The procedures are usually painless. Your clinician will numb the local skin area and then gently remove the mole. In some cases, where the procedure involves a slighter deeper excision to remove skin lesion, a few stitches may be needed, but with proper after care these will heal very quickly and there will be very little sign that it was ever there.

It may be possible to have some skin lesions removed using electrosurgery, eliminating the need for incisions, this option will be discussed with you prior to treatment if you are a suitable candidate.

Remember generally, moles are harmless features of your skin, which will never cause any issues.

However, in some cases, UV exposure from the sun can cause them to change shape, size or colour and become cancerous. Therefore, stay safe and find a good high factor sun cream that has UVA and UVB protection.

If you are concerned about a mole or would just like to discuss options for removal of a benign mole please do book an appointment.

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