What Are the Different Types of Skin Moles?

Updated July 19, 2017

Moles can appear anywhere on the skin and can take on various shapes and forms. Some are present at birth; some appear later in life. As a person matures, so do his moles. Moles typically begin as flat, brown spots. But over time, they're likely to grow, become elevated and grow hairs. Unfortunately, change can bring concern that a mole is malignant.

Common Acquired

Common acquired moles can occur anywhere on the body. People with light skin are more likely to get them and they're also likely to appear on babies 6 to 12 months old. Children and adolescents are also prone to acquiring them. One cause of common acquired moles is sun exposure. Common acquired moles can change in shape and become cancerous. If you notice an acquired mole has changed in shape or colour, you should see a dermatologist.


Congenital moles typically appear in newborns. There are two types: small and giant. A giant one is usually greater than 20cm in diameter and a small one is less than 1.5cm in diameter. Removing them isn't easy and may require a graft. The more prevalent they are in a family the more likely they'll be passed on. They can be round or oval and may have uneven colouration. Usually, a congenital mole on the head, neck or spine is of concern. It can increase the likelihood of seizures or melanoma. If you suspect the presence of such a mole, a clinical examination or skin biopsy is recommended.


Dysplastic moles are also called atypical moles. They may appear all by themselves or in groups. Dysplastic moles raise concern because they may increase the risk of melanoma. If they run in your family or if you have one, monitoring is recommended. Dysplastic moles typically appear during puberty. These moles are likely to appear on the back, buttocks, chest and scalp. They're usually only about 1cm in diameter and vary in shades of tan and brown. If you are concerned that one of your moles is dysplastic, seek medical attention to determine if it's cancerous or not. Anyone with a benign (noncancerous) dysplastic mole should have it checked once or twice a year.


Halo moles are formed in connection with a lesion. Halo moles are distinguished by a white halo of depigmented (loss of pigment) skin surrounding it. Adolescents are at high risk of getting halo moles, but they can occur at any age. Halo moles usually disappear with time. Their cause is not known. Halo moles can appear anywhere on the body, but are more common on the back. Diagnosing a halo mole is easy and they are considered harmless. Treatment or removal of such a mole is done for cosmetic reasons or if the mole starts to cause concern.


Spitz moles are also called spindle cell moles. They're benign and are acquired from pigment cells called melanocytes. These moles typically appear on the face and head of children and adolescents. Heredity doesn't seem to influence their development. Spitz moles are usually smooth and about 6 to 8mm in diameter. These moles usually appear on children between the ages of 3 and 13. Doctors don't usually recommend the removal of these moles unless a pertinent reason (e.g. a reddish, elevated mole on the face) is exhibited.

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About the Author

Lorei Velazco worked as a journalist for a television station, in marketing, sales, education and fitness. She holds two Bachelor’s degrees in communications and education.