Posts for tag: Mole
Most moles are normal, but sun exposure, genetics, and other factors can work to turn a normal mole into an abnormal, even cancerous mole. It’s important to know what to look for in abnormal moles. Knowing the signs and symptoms of an abnormal mole can even protect you from skin cancer.
Moles are caused by skin cells known as melanocytes. These melanocytes are responsible for determining skin color. Melanocytes can clump together, causing a mole to form.
So, when should you worry about a mole?
Abnormal Moles Typically Are:
- Large, usually over 6 millimeters in diameter
- Irregularly shaped, usually with ragged borders
- Asymmetrical, usually not uniform in shape
In Addition, You Need to Watch Out for Moles That Are:
- Itching, burning, or painful
- Bleeding or oozing
- Recurring after being previously removed
You should perform a self-check of your moles regularly, looking for any of the signs and symptoms listed above. In fact, pay attention to any mole that has changed in size, color, height, or shape.
You should also visit your dermatologist regularly, especially if you are at a high risk for skin cancer. People who are at a higher risk of skin cancer:
- Burn easily
- Have fair skin, light hair, and light eyes
- Have a family history of skin cancer
When you visit your dermatologist, your doctor may want to biopsy the mole to check for abnormalities. This means taking a sample of tissue or removing the mole entirely. This can be done several ways, including:
Shaving the mole if the mole is small; this option doesn’t require sutures.
Removal of the mole with an instrument, if the mole is large; this option requires a few sutures.
MOHS micrographic surgery, which removes the mole one layer at a time, and the tissue is examined under a microscope.
Remember to protect yourself against skin damage and skin cancer by always wearing a sunscreen of at least SPF 15, or 30 if you are out in the sun for an extended period. Use a higher SPF of 50 and above if you are at high risk for skin cancer.
To learn more about the signs and symptoms of an abnormal mole, and mole removal options, talk with your dermatologist. Call today.
Noticing a suspicious mole?
When was the last time you put on sunscreen? If you didn’t say this morning or yesterday then we might have a problem. Apart from turning to your dermatologist once a year for skin cancer screenings, there are definitely things you can be doing every day to reduce your risk for skin cancer during your lifetime. One of them is to check your own skin regularly to look for new or changing moles that could be signs of melanoma.
“See Something, Say Something”
Here’s what to look for when performing your own skin check,
New moles: By the age of 30, you should already have all the moles that you’re going to have. So, if you notice any new moles or growths cropping up where there was nothing before, it might be time to have a dermatologist check it out.
Oddly shaped moles: Healthy moles are asymmetrical, which means that you could draw an imaginary line down the mole and both halves would look identical. Asymmetrical moles are more likely to be precancerous or cancerous, so it’s a good idea to have them checked out by a skin care professional.
Moles without borders: Healthy moles have a clearly defined border or outline while moles that are cancerous are more likely to have an irregular or poorly defined border. If your mole doesn’t have a clearly defined shape, it’s time to see your dermatologist.
Moles with multiple colors: While healthy moles will range in color from skin-colored to nearly black, it’s important that your moles are one color. If you notice a mole that contains multiple colors, particularly one, pink or blue, schedule an immediate evaluation with your skin doctor.
Moles that change: Moles should stay relatively the same over time, which also means that you probably shouldn’t notice them much; however, if a mole hurts, is red or swollen, crusts over, bleeds or oozes, these are also signs of a problem.
Even if everything looks great, you should still schedule an annual skin cancer screening with your dermatologist just to play it safe. After all, skin cancer is one of the leading cancers in the US. These annual screenings offer early detection of skin cancer, which also means a swifter treatment and a higher cure rate. Call your dermatologist today to make sure you don’t miss out on your annual skin cancer screening.
What is an irregular or atypical mole?
Medically referred to as dysplastic nevi, these irregular moles are benign but having them could put you at an increased risk for developing melanoma over your lifetime. These moles can develop anywhere on the body but are most often found on sun-exposed areas of the skin. Since these moles vary greatly in appearance it’s important to monitor your moles regularly so you can recognize when unusual changes are occurring and call your dermatologist.
What does an irregular mole look like?
The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) offers a simple ABCDE guideline to follow to be able to spot unusual or suspicious changes in a mole. Here’s what the ABCDEs stand for:
Asymmetry: when the halves of the moles don’t match each other in shape or appearance this could be a sign of a cancerous mole
When should I see a dermatologist?
If you have any concerns about a mole don’t hesitate to call your dermatologist to have it checked out. The sooner melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers are detected and removed the better. Of course, everyone can benefit from visiting a dermatologist at least once a year for a comprehensive skin cancer screening. You should also be performing self-exams once a month to keep track of your moles.
If you have an irregular mole or a mole that’s changing in appearance, it’s best to play it safe and schedule an evaluation with a dermatologist who can examine the mole to make sure it hasn’t turned cancerous.
Remember Your ABCDEs
This easy-to-remember acronym will help you spot those signs of skin cancer whenever you examine moles yourself. This is what it stands for,
- A is for asymmetry: A healthy mole will be perfectly circular and symmetrical. If you find that half of the mole is shaped differently from the other half, this could be a sign of pre-cancerous growth.
- B is for a border: A healthy mole will have a clearly defined border. If the mole has a jagged or an even or poorly defined border, it’s time to visit your dermatologist.
- C is for color: A healthy mole will remain a singular color throughout your life. If the mole changes color or develops multiple colors this could be a sign of skin cancer.
- D is for diameter: A healthy mole is typically smaller than a pencil eraser (under 5mm). Moles over 5mm, or larger than a pencil eraser, may be cause for concern. Large moles warrant seeing a dermatologist.
- E is for evolving: A healthy mole will remain the same over the course of your lifetime. So, if you notice it changing at all then it’s worth having a dermatologist look at it.
Along with remembering your ABCDEs, it’s also a good idea to look for,
- New moles: Just because you develop a new mole doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s cancerous; however, if you start noticing any new moles developing past the age of 20 (particularly on the face, neck, shoulder, or other sun-exposed areas), this warrants an evaluation with a skincare professional.
- Troublesome moles: Do you have a mole that bleeds, itches, crusts over, or is painful or tender? If so, the mole should be checked out.
Mole Removal: What to Expect
Worried about that mole? A mole is a dark spot or irregularity in the skin. Everyone is at risk of skin cancer and should keep an eye on their skin and moles. Simply thinking about having a skin mole removed might send shivers down your spine, but sometimes it’s necessary for your health. For example, if a biopsy is cancerous, removing the mole can help to stop any cancer from growing more. But many individuals also have moles removed for cosmetic reasons.
What Causes Moles?
Skin moles occur in all races and skin colors. Some individuals are born with moles. Most skin moles appear in early childhood and during the first 20 years of a person's life. New moles appearing after age 35 may require medical evaluation, and possible biopsy. Some moles appear later in life. Sun exposure seems to play a role in the development of skin moles. People with high levels of exposure to UV light tend to have more moles. However, moles may also occur in sun-protected areas.
How Is It Done?
Mole removal is a simple kind of surgical procedure. Your doctor will likely choose one of two ways: surgical shave or surgical excision. Surgical shave is done more often on small skin moles. After numbing the area, your healthcare provider will use a blade to shave off the mole and some tissue underneath it. Stitches aren’t usually required. During the surgical excision procedure, your doctor will numb the area. He or she will use a circular blade or scalpel to cut out the mole and some skin around it. The doctor will then stitch the skin closed.
Can a Mole Grow Back?
There's a small chance that a mole can grow back after mole surgery, although there's no way to predict whether this will happen. It's important to understand that no surgery has a 100 percent cure rate. Some mole cells may remain in the skin and may recur in the same area. Some skin moles are more aggressive than others and need closer follow-up and additional treatment.
Are There Any Risks?
Risks of mole removal methods include infection, rare anesthetic allergy, and very rare nerve damage. Follow your doctor's instructions to care for the wound until it heals. This means keeping it covered, clean and moist. The area may bleed a little when you get home, especially if you take medications that thin your blood. It's always prudent to choose a doctor with appropriate skills and experience with these removals. This will lower the risks associated with this procedure.
Take charge of your health today. Regular self-skin examinations and annual skin examinations by a doctor help people find early skin cancers. If you need a mole check, find a dermatologist near you and schedule your annual skin cancer screening.A simple skin cancer screening could save your life.