A dermatologist discusses how often a mole with melanoma is a black color.

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I wondered how common is it that a melanoma lesion is black—not dark brown, but true black. And can a perfectly normal mole be black?

“Yes, normal moles can be black, more commonly in darker skinned individuals,” says Dr. Rebecca Baxt, a board certified dermatologist with Baxt CosMedical.

“Most moles are brown, but some can be pink or black,” continues Dr. Baxt. “Generally, darker skinned people get darker moles; fair skinned people get lighter moles.

“The general rule is if it’s new or changing, it needs to be evaluated by a doctor, preferably a dermatologist.

“If the mole has changed and turned black, that mole needs a biopsy to rule out melanoma.”

Can a normal mole be black?

“There are other reasons a mole could turn black such as trauma, but melanoma should be ruled out,” says Dr. Baxt.

“Moles can definitely change during pregnancy.  They can grow and get darker and they need close follow-up by a dermatologist.

“I always tell my patients to follow up with me more often when they are pregnant and not less often.  Self-tanner can make moles look darker temporarily.”

Dr. Baxtdr. baxt is an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at NYU and a member of the Skin Cancer Foundation. She also specializes in laser treatments, skin rejuvenation procedures, acne treatment and rosacea treatment.