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My baby has a mole — should I be concerned?

Moles, birthmarks, beauty spots and freckles — everyone’s got one or the other. You might have heard – quite inaccurately – that babies can’t have moles. In actual fact, though, moles on babies, including newborns, are quite common.

Practically everyone has moles, and yes, you can be born with them. Moles on babies start out as small and relatively flat, discoloured spots and will only become raised and darker as time passes. At birth, they can appear pink, tan or black, and in some cases, they don’t change colour at all. Some might even disappear after several years.

It is not uncommon to see a newborn with small little pimples and blotches, and they will disappear soon enough. Spotting a mole on your baby is no cause for alarm, as the vast majority of moles in little ones are benign.

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How do moles on babies develop?

Many babies are born with at least one mole, and these birthmark moles are referred to as congenital nevi. These marks can’t be prevented, and nothing you did or didn’t do during your pregnancy caused it. Pay no attention to that old wife’s tale that a mole on a newborn is a “stain” inflicted by you.

The reasons behind most birthmark moles are genetic. These little marks are not related to the actual birth, but they are usually inherited. It is simply caused by a harmless collection of pigmented cells that group together in one place.  How prone your baby is to developing moles is determined genetically by you and your partner, but prolonged exposure to the sun and excessive sun damage at a young age can also contribute to the formation of moles.

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Which areas of the body do moles typically appear?

Moles on babies do not discriminate; they can and will affect all races. Moles are not restricted to only one area, and they can appear anywhere on your baby’s skin – either solitary or in groups. However, areas that are more directly exposed to the sun are at a higher risk to develop moles.

Are moles on babies dangerous?

While most moles are not dangerous in themselves, a large percentage of skin cancer cases start in moles. The good news is, melanomas are extremely rare in children, let alone infants. However, for your own peace of mind, there is no harm done in watching the mole carefully, even if more malevolent signs only show up in teenage years.

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Dermatologists advise using the ABCD method to establish whether moles on babies are something to be concerned about. If you are worried that the puckered marks might lead to trouble, use this method to determine whether you need to take your little one to see a dermatologist.

  • A is for asymmetry: The one side of the mole is different than the other side.
  • B is for the border: Take note if the edge is ragged, uneven or blurry.
  • C is for colour: Instead of being one colour, the mole is a mixture of red, brow and black.
  • D is for diameter: The mole should ideally not be larger than six millimeters.

Moles on babies and adults alike cannot be prevented, but you can minimize the risk of them appearing and turning malignant. Make sure you keep your infant inside or properly covered during the peak sunlight hours. Once your baby is a bit older, be sure to use copious amounts of sunscreen, and don’t let him be exposed to direct sunlight for too long. And on the topic of sunscreen, the same goes for you as parent.

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