In an earlier post, we talked about how to identify a cancerous mole. While that is a handy guide for giving yourself a self-diagnosis, it doesn’t answer the questions of how and why those moles form in the first place. Mole growth can be perfectly normal, provided that they are of the non-cancerous form, and can be easily answered in our post below.
Why Do Moles Grow on the Body?
Moles grow in a much similar way to freckles or other dark pigmentations on the body. Down to the most simple explanation, they occur when skin cells grow in a thick, dense cluster as opposed to being spread evenly throughout the skin. The scientific name for these skin cells is “melanocytes”. These melanocyte cells are what produce melanin, a term that you have probably heard before. Technically, a freckle is also caused by melanocytes, though there are distinct differences in a freckle and a mole.
Melanin is what gives the skin its natural pigment, as well as the color of your hair and even the shade of the iris of your eye. They are found in the top two layers of the skin. When you are exposed to ultraviolet rays from the sun, the melanocyte cells produce more melanin which leads to a darkening of the skin. When exposed safely, this leads to a natural tanning of the skin.
While there is no specific reason for when melanin is distributed evenly (a suntan) versus when they are developed in clusters, moles form when there is an uneven distribution and a dense cluster of melanin leads to a mole on the skin’s surface. These can form anywhere on the body, though they most often manifest themselves on the arms, hands, face, neck, and chest – which shouldn’t be too surprising, as these are the areas of the body that receive the most direct sun exposure. Most of the moles on your body form in the first twenty years of your life, though it is not uncommon (or unsafe) to see them develop in your later years.
Other Causes of Mole Growth
Some moles, called Atypical or Dysplastic Moles are thought to be hereditary. These moles tend to be slightly larger than a pencil eraser and can appear anywhere on the body, though they are most often seen on the back and rarely manifest themselves on the face.
Congenital Moles, which are also called congenital nevus, are moles that you have had since birth (so obviously they are not brought about by sun exposure). It is estimated that 1% of the population has these moles on their body, and they are caused by prenatal issues such as the growth of fatty tissue cells.
Moles are mostly caused by clustering of melanin as a result of sun exposure, though some can also be genetic or present at birth. In any case, a normal mole is, for the most part, nothing to worry about and can be safely removed with our product here. You can see our previously linked post (in the first sentence) on how to determine whether a particular mole is cause for concern or not, but by and large, they are non-worrisome blemishes on the skin.