Moles or Freckles: Knowing the Difference Could Save Your Life

While both moles and freckles are common occurrences in the skin that may be similar in appearance, knowing the difference could save your life. Here are some similarities, differences and signs that you should be aware of.

What’s the difference between a mole and a freckle?

Moles and freckles are dark spots on the skin caused by highly pigmented skin cells. Freckles are small areas of skin—usually pale brown—brought on by excessive sun exposure. They are often genetic and form due to an excessive production of melanin.

Moles are typically brown or black and are indirectly associated with exposure to the sun. They form when cells in the skin develop in a cluster formation, instead of being spread throughout the skin. While freckles come and go, moles are long-lasting and need to be monitored.

Here are some common characteristics of moles:

  • Small, dark spots

  • Look like a type of growth on the skin in appearance

  • Usually black or brown

  • May be a bit darker in color than freckles

  • Generally smaller than a pencil eraser

The easiest way to know if you have a mole or freckle is to touch the area. Moles are growths on the skin that are often raised from the skin’s surface, while freckles are usually flat.

Are moles and freckles life threatening?

The severity of moles and freckles on the skin all come down to malignant transformation—the process by which cells can become cancerous. Freckles do not have the potential for malignant transformation and are not a health threat.

On the other hand, moles may have some potential for…

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