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Thursday, August 24, 2017

Are Freckles and Moles the Same Thing? -- Why It's Important to Know the Difference

Black woman with freckles and moles

Judy Garland (the Wizard of Oz) had red hair and freckles, and Marilyn Monroe, Cindy Crawford, Madonna, Prince, Eva Mendes and Elizabeth Taylor all are known for their facial beauty marks. Then there is the mole. Are they all the same thing?

The facts about freckles, moles and beauty marks

Beauty marks, usually called "beauty" marks because they are on the face, are actually moles. Moles and freckles are not the same thing. So, to set the record straight, here is the difference, according to the Mayo Clinic.
  • Freckles - are small, flat, pigmented spots on the skin. They can be anywhere from red to tan to brown in color. Freckles aren't present at birth but will appear over time in some people after the skin is exposed to the sun. Freckles are usually of no concern.
  • Moles - appear at birth and can be flat or raised. They are usually dark in color and can appear anywhere on the body. About 20 - 40 percent of melanomas (skin cancer) develop from pre-existing moles.
  • Beauty mark - another name for a mole

The amount of moles you have may increase your risk for cancer

Researchers from King’s College London completed a study that indicates having 11 moles or more on your right arm could indicate a higher risk of melanoma, or skin cancer. The more moles one has on their body, the greater the risk for melanoma. What the study showed was that the number of moles on the right arm was a good indicator of how many moles that person has on their entire body. Women with 7 moles on their right arm were likely to have a total of 50 moles on their body. Women with 11 moles were more likely to have 100 moles on their body. The more moles, the greater the risk for skin cancer.

While white men and women have a higher risk for developing melanoma, people of all races need to watch for any changes in moles, especially when moles change in size, shape or color, or become painful. If this happens, consult your doctor.
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