Now that summer’s nearing, we’re officially on mole watch. Most of the time, new marks are totally innocuous, but finding one can definitely be disconcerting. So imagine if thousands of them suddenly started appearing all over your body. That’s what happened to one 48-year old woman who randomly developed thousands of moles on her torso and limbs over just a few months.
According to a case study published in the journal JAMA Dermatology, the rapid appearance of thousands of teeny moles was unprecedented. And if that wasn’t enough to stump docs, it gets weirder, the moles also appeared in a symmetrical pattern. Super-freaky, right?
This extremely rare occurrence does have a name actually—eruptive nevi—and is usually tied to changes in hormone levels, certain medications, or problems with the immune system. But according to the case study, none of these causes could explain this particular situation. The doctors treating her theorized that the specific pattern could indicate an immune reaction to eczema. But to be on the safe side, they also tested her for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. It turns out that some, though not all, of the moles were melanoma. So even though skin cancer doesn’t totally explain the weird occurrence, it does underscore the importance of getting any and all moles checked out immediately. Because she doesn’t have a history of skin cancer and her melanoma isn’t metastatic, meaning it won’t spread, the study authors explain that they’re just closely monitoring her for now. She visits her derm and an oncology team for skin checks every three months.
This article was originally published by our partners at Women’s Health.