Moles are skin growths made up of cells that produce color (pigment). A mole can appear anywhere on the skin, alone or in groups. Most people get a few moles during their first 20 years of life. They are usually brown in color but can be blue, black, or flesh-colored. Most moles are harmless and do not cause pain or other symptoms, unless you rub them or they bump against something.
A child usually does not need treatment for moles. But some can turn into cancer. Talk to your doctor if your child has a mole that bleeds, itches, burns, or changes size or color. Also let the doctor know when your child gets a new mole. Make sure your child wears sunscreen and other sun protection every day to help prevent skin cancer.
Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.
How can you care for your child at home?
Help your child prevent skin cancer
- Always use sunscreen on exposed skin. Make sure to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher.
- Keep babies younger than 6 months out of the sun. If you cannot avoid the sun, use hats and clothing to protect your child's skin.
- Have your child wear a wide-brimmed hat and long sleeves and pants if he or she is going to be outdoors for very long.
- Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., which is the peak time for the sun's ultraviolet rays.
- Avoid sunburns, tanning booths and sunlamps. Sunburns in childhood damage the skin and increase the risk of cancer.
- If you see a change in a skin growth, contact your doctor. Look for:
- A mole that bleeds, itches, burns, or changes shape or color.
- A fast-growing mole.
- A scaly or crusted growth on the skin.
- A sore that will not heal.
When should you call for help?
Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:
- A mole looks different than it did before. It may have changed in size, color, shape, or the way it looks.
Where can you learn more?
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