Moles are small, coloured spots on the skin. Most people have them and they're usually nothing to worry about unless they change size, shape or colour.
Check if your mole could be cancerous
Signs of harmless moles
It's normal for:
- babies to be born with moles
- new moles to appear – especially in children and teenagers
- moles to fade or disappear as you get older
- moles to get slightly darker during pregnancy
Signs a mole could be cancerous
Some moles can be a sign of melanoma, a type of skin cancer.
Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:
- you have a mole that's changed size, shape or colour
- you have a mole that's painful or itchy
- you have a mole that's inflamed, bleeding or crusty
- you have a new or unusual mark on your skin that has not gone away after a few weeks
Finding a melanoma as early as possible can mean it's easier to treat
Treatments for moles
Moles only need treating if they're a sign of melanoma.
If the GP thinks your mole is melanoma, you'll be referred to a specialist in hospital. You should get an appointment within 2 weeks.
The main treatment for melanoma is surgery to remove the mole.
Cosmetic mole removal
Most moles are harmless. Harmless moles are not usually treated on the NHS.
You can pay a private clinic to remove a mole, but it may be expensive.
How to prevent cancerous moles
UV light from the sun can increase the chance of a mole becoming cancerous. If you have lots of moles, you need to be extra careful in the sun.
It's important to check your moles regularly for any changes.
There are some things you can do to protect your moles from sun damage, especially during hot weather.
stay in the shade between 11am and 3pm, when sunlight is strongest
cover skin with clothes – wear a hat and sunglasses if you have moles on your face
regularly apply a high-factor sunscreen (minimum SPF30) and apply it again after swimming
do not use sunlamps or sunbeds – they use UV light
Find out more about sunscreen and sun safety
Page last reviewed: 4 July 2023
Next review due: 4 July 2026