We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

How Do I Tell If a Spot Is a Mole or Freckle?

By C.B. Fox
Updated Feb 08, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

There are many types of spots that can appear on the skin. While most of these are benign, some require medical attention because they might be cancerous. Freckles are almost always benign, but certain types of moles can be an indication that a patient has some type of skin cancer. It is important for patients to learn to differentiate between types of skin discolorations so that they can tell if a spot is a mole or freckle. In general, freckles are small brown dots that may darken or fade with exposure to sunlight, whereas moles are dark colored growths that often project out from the surface of the skin.

The first step in determining whether a spot is a freckle or mole is to feel the spot. When examining a spot with the fingertips, the patient can determine whether it is raised or whether it is flush with the skin. A freckle is never raised, so a patient will know, if the spot rises above the surrounding skin, that the spot is not a freckle. Not all moles will protrude from the skin, however, so a spot that is not raised could be either a mole or freckle.

Visually examining the spot is another way for patients to determine whether an area of discoloration is a mole or freckle. Freckles are often medium to dark brown in color, but many moles are dark brown or black. As a person ages, however, moles tends to lighten in color and can become medium or light brown. Additionally, freckles are almost always small, round spots, while moles can be small or large and may not be circular in shape.

The location of a spot can also be an indication as to whether it is a mole or freckle. Moles may occur all over the body and are not necessarily any more prevalent in areas that receive a lot of sun exposure. Freckles are often found on the face and arms, where a person is exposed to the most sunlight.

Patients can also examine spots on the body to see how they change over time. Moles do not usually go away on their own. They often grow larger with time, both in diameter and in height above the surrounding skin, and may begin to grow hairs. Freckles, on the other hand, are often seasonal, darkening in the summer months and lightening or disappearing altogether when the skin is not as exposed to sunlight.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By bear78 — On Jan 16, 2013

@alisha-- Freckles are pigmented skin but moles contain a different type of skin cells altogether. The best way to tell them apart is to get a biopsy.

Sun exposure also doesn't help with differentiation because both moles and freckles can be a result of sun exposure or sun exposure can cause them to increase in number and get darker.

I don't really pay attention to what I have on my skin. What I do pay attention to is their size and color. Growing moles that change color are a sign of a problem. As long as everything is the same size and color, I don't care if I have a mole or freckle.

For example, I have a medium sized mole on my back since birth. Thankfully, it hasn't changed at all. I also have a few freckles on my face, hands, arms feet and legs. Sometimes new ones come up, but they don't change either.

By ZipLine — On Jan 16, 2013

@alisha-- I'm not a doctor but I have several flat skin moles. Flat skin moles are a tiny bit raised from the skin. They're not raised like regular moles, but there is definitely something there. Freckles are completely flat.

Close your eyes and feel the skin where the freckle or mole is. If you can feel that there is something there with your eyes closed, it's a mole. If you can't fee anything, it's a freckle.

This is not a scientific way to tell them apart at all. And if you have worries, you should definitely ask your dermatologist about it. But it can help you figure out what you have.

By discographer — On Jan 15, 2013

I'm having difficult telling apart freckles and flat skin moles. Are the smaller ones called freckles and larger ones called flat skin moles?

All of mine are dark colored and flat, it's just that some are like a dot and others are larger. What are they?

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.