Diagnosis of Common Moles (Nevi)

Nevi are usually diagnosed clinically, although some moles are difficult to distinguish from other benign growths, freckles, or even skin cancer. When in doubt, a mole can be removed and evaluated under a microscope by a pathologist.

Treatment for Common Moles

Most nevi are not bothersome and are not removed. The most common reason for mole removal is cosmetic. However, moles also are removed because they become irritated or change in appearance.

During removal, the dermatologist numbs (anesthetizes) the area with a local anesthetic. This is fairly painless. The mole is removed by shaving off the top portion, so that it becomes flush with the skin, or by scooping out the entire mole. Sometimes a mole is excised, or taken out deeply, and the resulting wound is closed with stitches. Moles removed for either a medical or cosmetic purpose are sent to a laboratory for evaluation and diagnosis.

Prevention of Common Moles

Minimizing sun exposure, particularly in childhood, may minimize the development of common acquired moles.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 31 Aug 2000

Last Modified: 25 Sep 2015