Not all moles should cause a parent to worry.

Moles on a child’s skin are usually nothing to worry about. These small spots are caused by groups of cells that give skin its color. They often appear during childhood.

In adults, moles have a small chance of becoming skin cancer. In children, that is even less likely, according to Carrie C. Coughlin, MD, a Washington University pediatric dermatologist at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

Melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, is not very common in children,” Dr. Coughlin says. “Still, parents should know the signs and symptoms of an unhealthy mole.”

Time for a Skin Check?

Moles can get larger, darker or lighter as children get older. This is normal.

Dr. Coughlin says parents should take a child to a doctor if they see:

  • bleeding, itching or painful moles
  • color changes, for example, if a mole turns pink or red
  • new moles that show up
  • a flat mole that changes to a raised mole with blurry edges

Have your child’s skin looked at during annual wellness visits. Skin screenings are quick and painless. They also help doctors detect and treat skin cancer early.

The Pediatric Melanoma and Nevus Clinic was formed at St. Louis Children’s Hospital to diagnose and treat melanoma and atypical moles. The clinic provides a family-friendly healing environment for patients as well as their families.