Everyone gets moles, even children who are routinely using sunscreen. Moles can occur on any area of the body from the scalp, to the face, chest, arms, legs, groin and even between the fingers, toes and on the bottom of the feet. So....not all moles are related to sun exposure. Children may be born with a mole which is called a congenital nevus, or may develop moles in early childhood. It is common for children to continue to get new moles throughout their childhood and adolescence as well. Some people inherit the tendency to have moles and may even have a family history of melanoma or skin cancer, so you should know your own family history. I begin checking children's moles at their early checkups and look for any changes in moles as well. You want to be observant for changes in shape, color or size of the mole. While a child's mole may get a bit bigger as the child grows the change should not be dramatic. Pay attention to moles with irregular shapes, jagged borders, or uneven colors within the same mole. I often show parents moles that are worth watching so that they are aware and may monitor their child's moles between check ups. Freckles are also common in children and are usually found on the face, nose, chest or upper back and arms. Freckles tend to be lighter than moles and cluster. For a child with numerous moles, or those that have a significant family history of skin cancer a referral to a pediatric dermatologist may be beneficial. The dermatologist can do "mole mapping" for following moles. Lifetime sun exposure does play a role in the development of melanoma and skin cancer so it is important to be sun smart at an early age. Use sunscreen on a regular basis, wear hats and sun protective clothing as early as infancy. I would also try to have your child avoid the midday sun when possible. Early awareness of how to watch for changes in moles and continued sun protection will hopefully establish good habits that will continue throughout your child's life. I'm Dr. Sue with TKD, helping parents take charge!
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