Awareness Is Your First Step To Prevention
What Are Moles?
Moles (also known as nevi) are normal skin growths that are usually brown, round in shape, and flat or slightly raised. Benign moles usually develop during childhood and adolescence appearing very slowly on your skin. Moles that appear in adulthood can be a sign of melanoma. If you are concerned about one or more of your moles, it is important to schedule a full-body skin examination with a dermatology professional that specializes in moles and mole removal.
Just because you have moles, doesn’t mean that you have or will develop skin cancer. Awareness is the most important step in good prevention. Read more to find out more about the different types of moles and mole removals.
What Are the Different Types of Moles?
Common or acquired nevi are moles that develop after a person is born. Most commonly they appear on fair-skinned individuals. Common moles are symmetrical, round or oval in shape, less than 6 millimeters in diameter, and have brown, even pigmentation. Having 10 to 40 of acquired nevi is quite common, but having more than 50 puts individuals at a greater chance for developing melanoma.
According to the AAD, about 1 in 100 people are born with a mole. These are called congenital nevi. Congenital moles can vary in size and often grow as the person grows. Most congenital nevi pose no health risk, but the larger in size they are, the greater the risk they pose for developing melanoma.
Atypical dysplastic nevi
Atypical nevi, or dysplastic nevi, are often described as being on a continuum between common moles and melanoma. To the naked eye, it can be difficult to determine the difference between a dysplastic nevus and a melanoma. A dermatologist will use a dermatoscope to assess these types of moles. Often, skin biopsies are performed to test the mole for atypia.
Spitz nevi are difficult to distinguish from melanoma because clinically they can look very similar. Spitz nevi are usually raised and vary in color from pink to brown to black. The best way to diagnose a Spitz nevus from a melanoma is with a skin biopsy.
When Should I See A Dermatologist?
When we talk about suspicious moles, we often refer to the ABCDE checklist.
ASYMMETRY: one half of the mole doesn’t match the other half
BORDER: the edges of the mole are notched or ragged
COLOR: the mole is varied shades of tan, black, and brown
DIAMETER: a mole that is greater than 6 millimeters in size
EVOLUTION: change in size, shape, shade of color, itching, or bleeding in a mole
If you have any moles with these symptoms, you need to schedule an appointment with a dermatology professional.
A mole removal is a safe and routine procedure performed in dermatology offices everyday. After a thorough skin examination using a dermatoscope, your dermatologist will determine if it is safe for you to have your mole removed and which procedure is right for you. There are several mole removal options:
Shave removal where the mole removal specialist uses a surgical blade to shave the mole leaving a small wound to heal on its own
Surgical excision where the mole removal specialist cuts out the entire mole and stitches the skin together.
Having your moles evaluated by a dermatology professional is the best step you can take in determining the health of your moles. Schedule your mole check today by calling 410-870-8225.