Dysplastic Nevus/Atypical Mole

Dysplastic Nevus/Atypical Mole

A dysplastic nevus or atypical mole is a nevus (mole) whose appearance is different from that of common moles.

Dysplastic nevi often grow to larger than ordinary moles, and may have irregular and indistinct borders. Their color may not be uniform, and may range from light pink to very dark brown. They usually begin flat, but parts may raise above the skin surface.

According to the National Cancer Institute, researchers have shown that atypical moles are more likely than ordinary moles to develop into a type of skin cancer called melanoma. Although most atypical moles may never become malignant, numerous studies indicate that about half of melanomas arise from atypical moles. Epidemiology studies have also shown that individuals with multiple dysplastic nevi are at much higher risk for developing melanomas.

Patients with a personal or family history of skin cancer or of dysplastic nevus syndrome (multiple atypical moles) should see a dermatologist at least once a year to be sure they are not developing melanoma.

Risk Factors

People tend to inherit a tendency to develop atypical moles. Atypical moles are not cancerous, but people who have these moles have a higher risk of malignant melanoma, an aggressive and deadly form of skin cancer. Your risk of melanoma increases if you have atypical moles, have had a previous melanoma or a first-degree relative (parent, sibling, child) who has had a melanoma. A mole that stands out and looks different from other moles (known as the "ugly duckling" sign) can be dangerous and should be evaluated by a dermatologist.


American Academy of Dermatology


If your dermatologist detects a dysplastic nevus during your skin exam, it will be removed with a simple shave biopsy. Depending on the results of that biopsy, the need for further treatment will be decided.


The most important thing you can do to protect your skin and prevent skin cancer is to limit sun exposure. Sun exposure is the most preventable risk factor for all skin cancers, including melanoma. The following behaviors can help prevent new skin cancers:

  • Seek shade.
    Shade helps protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Shade is especially important between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the sun’s rays are strongest. But any time your shadow is shorter than you are, seek shade.
  • Wear protective clothing.
    This means wearing a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses, when possible.
  • Generously apply a zinc-based sunscreen that offers broad spectrum (UVA and UVB) protection, water resistance, and a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or more.
    Studies have shown that wearing sunscreen every day can reduce the risk of developing melanoma by half. Even on cloudy days, apply sunscreen to all skin that will not be covered by clothing. Reapply approximately every two hours, or after swimming or sweating.
  • Take care around water, snow, and sand.
    These reflect and intensify the damaging rays of the sun.
  • Avoid tanning beds.
    Ultraviolet light from the sun and tanning beds can cause skin cancer and wrinkling. If you want to look like you’ve been in the sun, you may wish to use a sunless self-tanning product, but you should continue to use sunscreen with it.


American Academy of Dermatology

What We Do


  • Full Body Skin Examinations
  • Biopsies to confirm the diagnosis
  • Shave removals & excisions

What should I do if I think I have an atypical mole?

See your dermatologist for evaluation. Do not wait until your regularly scheduled skin exam if a mole has changed or appears different from your other moles.


American Academy of Dermatology


Click Here


* Required Fields

Shop Now