Have you discovered tiny moles growing in a cluster or groups on your skin and are fearing this could be a sign of melanoma?

First off, one thing you need to make sure of is if these spots are actually moles.

The first thing is, just because you think you have a group of tiny moles growing close to each other in a cluster, doesn’t mean that these are actually moles.

“It can be difficult to decipher true moles from other similar lesions such as freckles, keratoses and other brown spots that can occur on the skin,” says Dr. Jennifer Gordon, MD, who is board certified by the American Board of Dermatology and practices at Westlake Dermatology located in Austin, Texas.

A dermatologist can use a handheld lens called a dermatoscope to view these spots under high magnification.

This is combined with light, to make a distinction, though even with the unaided eye, a dermatologist can usually tell a seborrheic keratosis (a benign skin growth) from a mole.

“If there is a group of true moles that are small and grow close together, it likely doesn’t mean anything worrisome, but it is always a good idea to have them checked by a dermatologist.

“Often skin in the same area has the same genetics and exposures, so may be prone to forming moles.

“However, the same warning signs apply for small moles (and groups of moles) that do for individual: change in size, color, shape, border, symmetry or unwarranted irritation.

“If any of these occur then see your dermatologist immediately.”

Give yourself monthly skin self-exams so that you can become familiar with your mole map.

Learn what is normal so that if there are future changes to a spot on your skin, or the appearance of what seems to be groups of new moles, you will know that these are changes (e.g., size, symmetry, shape, color, texture).

Dr. Gordon’s interests include medical dermatology, particularly the treatment and prevention of melanoma and other skin cancers in athletes. For 2016, 2017 and 2018 Texas Monthly Magazine selected her as one of the Texas Super Doctors Rising Stars. 
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  

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Top image: Shutterstock/Andrey_Popov