Posts for tag: Moles
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.
Do you have a mole? Chances are good that you have few of them, actually. The average person has around 30-40 moles, and while moles are usually nothing to worry about it is important to be able to spot any changes that could be warning signs of skin cancer. That’s why you should perform self-exams every month to check the state of your moles. Just because they could be harmless doesn’t mean you should ignore them.
A mole that develops after the age of 30, a mole that bleeds or a changing mole could be a sign of melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer. This is why it’s important to check your moles regularly. When found early, melanoma is highly treatable. When it comes to pinpointing melanoma your dermatologist may teach you about the ABCDE's of skin cancer:
Asymmetry: If you were to draw a line down the middle of a mole both sides would be completely symmetrical; however, an asymmetrical mole could be a sign of melanoma.
Border: Melanoma is more likely to produce growths that have jagged or poorly defined edges.
Color: Healthy moles are usually a single color, while melanoma will often contain different colors or dark spots.
Diameter: Most healthy moles are smaller than a pencil eraser. If you notice that one or more moles are getting bigger you should speak to your dermatologist.
Evolution: Moles stay relatively the same over time; therefore, if you notice any changes to the size, color, shape, or texture then it’s time to consult with a skincare professional.
Of course, melanoma isn’t the only type of skin cancer to be on the lookout for. The two most common types of non-melanoma skin cancers include basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas. Basal cell carcinomas often present as waxy-looking pale bumps on the skin, often on the head or neck, while squamous cells feel like firm nodules that may be smooth at first but become scaly.
Even if you aren’t noticing changes in your moles it’s still a good idea to schedule a skin cancer screening with your dermatologist once a year. Those at an increased risk for skin cancer may want to discuss coming in more often for exams. This exam is non invasive and could just save your life. If you’ve never had a skin cancer screening before it’s high time that you scheduled one.
Although moles are usually harmless, in some cases they can become cancerous, causing melanoma. For this reason, it is important to regularly examine your skin for any moles that change in size, color, shape, sensation or that bleed. Suspicious or abnormal moles or lesions should always be examined by your dermatologist.
What to Look For
Remember the ABCDE's of melanoma when examining your moles. If your mole fits any of these criteria, you should visit your dermatologist as soon as possible.
- Asymmetry. One half of the mole does not match the other half.
- Border. The border or edges of the mole are poorly defined or irregular.
- Color. The color of the mole is not the same throughout or has shades of tan, brown, black, blue, white or red.
- Diameter. The diameter of a mole is larger than the eraser of a pencil.
- Evolution. The mole is changing in size, shape or color.
Moles can appear anywhere on the skin, including the scalp, between the fingers and toes, on the soles of the feet and even under the nails. The best way to detect skin cancer in its earliest, most curable stage is by checking your skin regularly and visiting our office for a full-body skin cancer screening. Use this guide to perform a self-exam.
- Use a mirror to examine your entire body, starting at your head and working your way to the toes. Also be sure to check difficult to see areas, including between your fingers and toes, the groin, the soles of your feet and the backs of your knees.
- Pay special attention to the areas exposed to the most sun.
- Don't forget to check your scalp and neck for moles. Use a handheld mirror or ask a family member to help you.
- Develop a mental note or keep a record of all the moles on your body and what they look like. If they do change in any way (color, shape, size, border, etc.), or if any new moles look suspicious, visit your dermatologist right away.
Skin cancer has a high cure rate if detected and treated early. The most common warning sign is a visible change on the skin, a new growth, or a change in an existing mole. Depending on the size and location of the mole, dermatologists may use different methods of mole removal. A body check performed by a dermatologist can help determine whether the moles appearing on the body are pre-cancerous or harmless.