When Should You Send Your Child to the Dermatologist?

The question always comes up, "When should a child be seen by a dermatologist, particularly for mole evaluations?" Well, the answer is that any child that has multiple moles on his body at any age should go to a dermatologist. It's important to assess the clinical aspects of the mole and see whether any of them have suspicious characteristics for which a biopsy or at least photographic documentation would be indicated.

Most children develop these moles during adolescence so it's a good idea to begin mole screenings in late adolescence or early 20s. If there is a family history of skin cancer, particularly of melanoma, then immediate family should be evaluated at a young age. If that is the case, screenings could start during mid-adolescence. Surveillance and screening are an important part of preventative medicine and can never be carried out at too young of an age.

Dermatologists remain the experts on skin disease, so it is always best for pediatrician or internists to refer their patients for evaluation of moles or other dermatologic problems such as eczema or acne to a board-certified dermatologist.

If there is any suspicion a mole might have the possibility for changing into skin cancer, then either a biopsy or photographic documentation of this mole would be indicated. Yearly follow-ups would then be appropriate to document any changes.

The definitive answer is children with moles should be screened by dermatologists at a relatively young age. Most moles evolve during adolescence and that is a good time to begin going in for yearly screenings.

Dr. Neil Sadick is one of the most renowned dermatologists and researchers whose multiple discoveries have strongly influenced and transformed the future of dermatology. He is a Professor of Dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College and President of the Cosmetic Surgery Foundation. Dr. Sadick is author, or co-author, of more than 500 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals and has contributed more than 75 chapters of medical books. Read more at

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