Moles are a specific kind of skin growth and they are quite common. They are generally small size spots in dark brown colour that occur due to clusters of pigmented cells. Moles can increase due to excess sun exposure in childhood. You can get flat as well as raised moles on your body. Generally, most of the moles appear by the age of 30 years. They can appear anywhere on your body including ears, scalp, lips, eyelids, palms, genitals, anal area, and soles. Most of the people have around 10 – 40 moles. Some moles fade in colour or change in appearance over time. Moles do not cause any harm to you. They are cancerous rarely. Nevi are the medical term for moles. Sometimes, moles are mistaken with other skin growths or freckles. The only effective way to remove a mole from the body is a minor surgery. If you have an irregular enlarging mole on your body then you should seek immediate medical help as this mole can be skin cancer or grow into a skin cancer known as melanoma.
Generally, moles are brown in colour and look like a spot. But moles can have different sizes, shapes, and colours. Check out various symptoms or signs of moles:
– The colour of moles can be tan, brown, red, black, pink, or blue.
– The moles can be flat, raised, wrinkled, or smooth.
– You may notice hair growth in moles.
– Generally, the shape of moles is oval or round.
– The size of moles is generally less than 6 millimetres in diameter which is the size of a pencil eraser.
– Moles that are present at the time of birth can be larger in size. It can cover the large area of the torso, a limb, or face, though such moles are rare.
Moles generally appear when cells develop in the skin in clumps or clusters. Check out various possible causes of moles:
– Moles can occur due to the genes that we inherit from our parents.
– It can also occur due to excess sun exposure in childhood.
How is it diagnosed?
It is easy to identify a mole due to its appearance. Your doctor can easily recognise by just having a look at your skin. Some people may have many moles. Such people should check on a regular basis if there is any change in size, colour or shape of their moles. Most of the cases of moles have nothing to worry about as they appear due to benign increases in cells in the skin. The meaning of benign is non-cancerous. If you are visiting a doctor for moles then your doctor may ask you various questions including:
– Did you notice any change in the size, shape, and colour of moles?
– Do you have a family history of moles?
– Are you experiencing any complications due to moles?
According to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), UK, there is a checklist of seven points used to assess a mole:
– Does the mole cause itching, a change in sensation, or pain?
– Does the mole have a shape that is not regular?
– Does the mole have a colour that is not regular?
– Does the mole size change?
– Is the size of the mole is 0.28 inches (7 millimetres) or more?
– Is there oozing in the mole?
– Is the mole inflamed or red?
Your doctor may measure the dimension and take a clinical photograph of your mole if there are mild changes in the mole. Your doctor may ask you to visit again after some weeks to find if there are any changes in the dimensions of the mole. Your doctor may refer you to a dermatologist if he or she notices signs or symptoms of malignancy. Your dermatologist may cut your mole by doing an excision biopsy or tell you that your mole is not cancerous. The mole is removed with the help of surgery. It is not possible to remove the mole if it is in a difficult location. The mole that is removed is sent to a laboratory for checking under the microscope. If the result suspects melanoma then your dermatologist may ask to get further tests done to check if cancer has spread.
It is not possible to prevent moles as you cannot change your own genes. Moles can increase due to exposure to the sun during childhood that is why various measures can be adopted to avoid the sun and get prevention from the sun:
– You should use sunscreens whenever you go into the sun with a sun protection factor (SPF) 50.
– You should wear a wide-brimmed sun hat while stepping out into the sun.
– You should not go outside in the peak sun hours i.e. 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM unless it is important.
– You should stay indoors and seek shade.
– You should wear those clothes which protect you from the sun including long sleeves shirts and long pants.
It is easy to prevent moles than treating or removing them when they have appeared. The problem that is associated with the removal of a mole is that it generally leaves a scar at the place from where the mole was removed. Moles that are smaller can easily be removed and cause smaller scars. On the other hand, larger moles lead to larger scars.
Most of the moles do not require treatment. Check out the only treatment option that is available for a mole:
– Removal of a mole: Your doctor may ask you to get your mole removed if it is cancerous. It is removed with the help of a surgical procedure. Sometimes a mole can cause irritation during shaving then you may wish to get it removed. The surgery that is done to remove the mole takes a short time. Your doctor numbs the portion around your mole in order to cut it. This procedure may leave a permanent scar on the portion from where the mole was removed.
You can conceal your mole with the help of makeup if you are conscious of your mole. If you notice hair growth in your mole then you can either clip it with the surface of the skin or pluck it. You can talk to your dermatologist about removing the hair and mole permanently. It is important that whenever you cut your mole, you keep the area clean. You should see a doctor if a mole is bothering you. Laser treatment is not generally recommended for treating moles.
Most of the mole, do not cause any harm. But some moles can be cancerous. Check out various complications associated with moles that can lead to malignant melanoma, an aggressive type of skin cancer:
– Numerous moles: Some people may develop many moles which can make people conscious about themselves. Many moles increase the risk of developing malignant melanoma by up to 10%.
– Moles that appear in families: Atypical nevi or dysplastic nevi can occur due to heredity and these moles are larger than normal moles. People with atypical nevi have a greater risk of developing malignant melanoma than other people.
– Congenital nevi: Congenital nevi are large moles. People are born with these moles. They also increase the risk of developing malignant melanoma.
Myth #1: All moles are cancerous
Fact: It is a misconception as most of the moles are not cancerous and they do not harm you. If you notice any change in the size, shape, and colour of the moles then you should seek medical help from a skin specialist known as a dermatologist in order to diagnose skin cancer.
Myth #2: All moles that are cancerous follow the rule of ABCDE
ABCDE stands for Asymmetrical, Border irregularities, Color, Diameter, and Evolving. This tool is used to identify if a mole is cancerous. Most of the moles are not symmetrical, have irregular borders, evolve with time, and are multi-coloured. But moles can be symmetrical, uniform in colour and with regular borders. You should reach a doctor if you notice any change in the moles.
Myth #3: Picking at a mole makes it larger and/or cancerous
Fact: It is a myth that picking at a mole makes it larger and/or cancerous. Though it is discouraged to remove a mole as it can cause infection, it will not make your mole larger and/or cancerous. It is not required to remove those moles which are benign. On the other hand, it is important to remove those moles which are cancerous along with the surrounding skin. You should talk to your doctor or dermatologist for detailed information about mole removal.
Moles are very common and they are a skin growth. They can appear due to clusters of pigmented cells. You can notice a mole anywhere on your body including ears, scalp, lips, eyelids, palms, genitals, anal area, and soles. Generally, people have around 10 – 40 moles. People may mistake moles for skin growths or freckles. Generally, they appear by the age of 30 years. The medical term for moles is nevi. The shape of a mole can be oval or round. Tan, brown, red, black, pink, and blue are some of the colours that a mole can have.
You should reach out to a doctor if your symptoms are bothering you or if you have noticed changes in the shape, size, and colour of moles. Your doctor will conduct a physical examination and he or she may send the mole to the laboratory for testing if he or she suspects the signs of skin cancer. The only treatment option that is available for a mole is mole removal. It is important to remove those moles which are cancerous while moles that are not cancerous are not required not to be treated. The complication associated with mole removal surgery is that it leaves scars at the location from where the mole is removed.
It is not possible to prevent moles as they are associated with genes. Exposure to the sun in childhood increases the risk of developing malignant melanoma. That is why you should protect yourself by reducing or avoiding exposure to the sun. You should use sunscreens, wear a wide-brimmed sun hat, stay indoors and seek shade, and wear those clothes which protect you from the sun are some of the ways to reduce the risk of developing skin cancer.
Most of the moles are harmless. But sometimes moles can be cancerous. Congenital nevi, moles that appear in families, and numerous moles are some of the complications associated with moles that may lead to malignant melanoma. People have many misconceptions about moles. All moles that are cancerous follow the rule of ABCDE is one of the common myths. Picking at a mole makes it larger and/or cancerous is another misconception that is quite known.