Mole Suddenly Raises! Is It Serious?

Moles (melanocytic nevi or pigment nevi) are a pigmented lesion that can be flat or raised, depending on where the pigmented cells are in the layers of your skin. Moles in and of themselves are harmless but can become dangerous when they change color, grow larger, or become abnormally raised. The New Zealand Dermatological Society says possible causes of a raised or changed moles is melanoma, a dangerous form of skin cancer, as well as other dangerous conditions. You will see pictures of different kinds of raised mole so that you can know when it is normal and when you should worry.

Normal Mole vs. Harmful Mole

Moles are usually circular and oval with a smooth edge and brownish in color. Some moles can be flat or raised, smooth or rough, and some have hair growing out of them.

Moles can fade away over time and they can change in number and appearance. They sometimes respond to hormonal changes. For example during:

  • Pregnancy – moles may get slightly darker
  • Adolescents – moles may increase in number
  • Older age – moles may disappear from age 40 and up

Normal Mole

Most moles are harmless although they can be unsightly, catch on your clothing, or be a bother when shaving. Although it can be costly, moles can be surgically removed. The mole is shaved (shave excision) off to be level with your skin and then cauterized. Consult with your doctor if you would like a mole(s) removed. Moles are genetic and usually present at birth or develop in the first 30 years of life. People with fair skin or spend a lot time in the sun are more prone to moles.

Harmful Mole

Nearly all moles are benign (harmless), but moles can change from normal to harmful in a very short period of time. You should check your skin at least every two months for harmful moles that can develop into melanoma – an aggressive and deadly form of skin cancer. Melanomas usually appear as a dark spot where there was not a spot before and it grows quickly. Pre-existing mole can develop into melanoma as well.

A good method to check your moles is the ABCDE method which stands for asymmetry; border irregularity; color change; diameter; elevated or raised. If you see any changes you should see your doctor immediately because it could be a warning sign of melanoma.

Preventing Measures

If you have many moles, you should avoid prolonged exposure to the sun as it increases your risk for melanoma. Although it might not be possible to prevent melanoma, there are some things you can do to decrease the risk. To protect yourself from the sun you should take the following steps.

  • When the sun is strongest – between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. – stay in the shade
  • Cover your body with clothes, wear sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat
  • Use sunscreen with a minimum of sun protection factor (SPF) 15 and apply it often, especially when swimming.
  • Stay away from tanning beds and sun lamps

Raised Mole


This is an example of a normal or benign mole. Although it is raised, it has consistent color and an even border. Be careful when putting on clothes or jewelry as it can get caught. Also be careful not to nick it when shaving.


Here is an example of a light raised mole. Once again, it has a defined border and is consistent in color. It is raised and it could get caught on jewlery or clothes but moles can surgically be removed.


Although the above mole is red in color, it is an example of a mole that has become irritated from rubbing on clothing. This a red raised mole. Sometimes moles can get irritated from vigerous scratching. It will heal in the amount of time it takes for a skin cut to heal.


This is a pink raised mole. Just because a mole is raised, it doesn't mean it's melanoma, as you can see this mole is very typical and regular. As you can see by the freckles surrounding the mole, this person has fair skin and tends to sunburn instead of tan. People with fair skin are more at risk for melanoma.


Cancerous Raised Mole: Apply the ABCDE Method to the cancerous raised mole above.

  • Asymmetry: one half of the mole does not match the other.
  • Border: uneven border and not smooth edges.
  • Color: color is darker than normal
  • Diameter: mole is larger than an eraser head
  • Evolving or enlarging: Any mole that is changing color, growing, itching, bleeding, or shrinking should be examined by a doctor.

When to See a Doctor

You should see a doctor if you are over 30 years old and a new mole appears or an old mole is painful, bleeding, itching, oozing or burning. Any changes in elevation, size, and color – especially if part or the entire mole turns black – should be immediately examined by your doctor.