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.
Find out why cracked, dry skin happens and what you can do about it.
Dry or cracked skin can be a real nuisance, and you must be giving your skin the care it needs to keep it hydrated. You may find that your feet or hands are particularly susceptible to cracking and dryness, especially during the cold winter months.
What Is Causing My Dry, Cracked Skin?
Pay attention to your symptoms so you can pinpoint what might be causing your dry or cracked skin. Dry skin may be the result of,
- Exposure to hot water (e.g., washing dishes; taking a hot shower)
- Cold weather
- Chemicals (e.g., laundry detergent; dish soap)
- Athlete’s foot
How Is Dry Skin Treated?
There are many ways to tackle dry skin depending on what’s causing it and where the dry skin is located. Luckily, dry skin can easily be treated with certain home care, including,
Using a daily moisturizer
A moisturizer will become your new best friend if you are prone to dry skin. Moisturizers lock in moisture in the skin and can be particularly helpful when applied after showering. A thick emollient moisturizer will be best for dealing with severely dry or cracked skin.
Applying petroleum jelly
Petroleum jelly is a simple topical remedy that can help protect the skin while healing cracks. Petroleum jelly can be beneficial when dealing with cracking skin or dry lips.
Sometimes, exfoliation can be a great way to remove dead cells from the skin’s surface and reduce dryness and cracking, particularly on the hands and feet. After soaking feet in water for about 20 minutes, exfoliation can be done with a pumice stone. Apply a moisturizer after using the pumice stone.
When Should I See a Dermatologist?
If you’ve tried just about everything to get your dry skin under control on your own and you still aren’t seeing results after two weeks, it’s time to turn to your dermatologist. You should also call your dermatologist if your symptoms get worse or if your skin shows signs of infection, such as,
- Severe or increased redness
If dry, cracked skin has become the norm, and no moisturizer seems to be helping, it’s probably a good idea to turn to your dermatologist for answers.
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.
Is it time to see a skincare specialist?
Your skin is your largest organ, so it’s important that you take care of it. That sometimes means turning to a dermatologist for specialized care. Whether you are dealing with skin problems or want to improve your skin’s appearance, a dermatologist can provide you with the cosmetic and medical treatments you’re looking for. Here are some reasons to turn to a dermatologist,
Your Acne Doesn’t Respond to Home Care
Yes, it will take time for acne to respond to treatment. There is no overnight fix; however, if you’ve been using the same over-the-counter acne treatments for twelve weeks or more and aren’t seeing results, it might be time to turn to a dermatologist. Over-the-counter options are only good for milder acne cases. A dermatologist can provide customized treatment options if acne is more severe or treatment-resistant.
You Want a Skin Cancer Evaluation
You don’t have to be fair-skinned or have a family history of skin cancer or tanning beds to benefit from turning to your dermatologist once a year for a skin cancer screening. Everyone can benefit. An annual screening with a dermatologist can catch melanoma and non-melanoma cancers early.
You Have a Chronic Skin Condition
When dealing with eczema, psoriasis or chronic dry skin, these problems require personalized care only a dermatologist can offer. If you are dealing with red, itchy, scaling or burning patches of skin and you’re not sure what’s going on, a dermatologist can provide you with a swift diagnosis and a customized treatment plan to help you get your flare-ups under control.
You Want to Look Younger
Apart from all the medical benefits of turning to a dermatologist, another reason to seek care from a skin care professional is that you’re looking to enhance your skin’s appearance. Whether you want to smooth away lines and wrinkles with Botox or improve skin tone and texture with microneedling or laser resurfacing, a dermatologist is an ideal doctor to turn to for safe, effective cosmetic treatments.
Are you dealing with skin problems that impact your everyday routine or self-esteem? Do you want to treat imperfections to get skin you feel more confident in? If so, call your dermatologist today to schedule a consultation and find out how this specialist can help you get healthy, radiant skin.
Find out how this simple injectable can take years off of your face.
So you want to get Botox but wish to learn more about this cosmetic treatment before turning to your dermatologist and taking the plunge. Botox can be a great option, particularly if you’re new to the cosmetic world, because it’s minimally invasive and temporary. Here's what you should know before you say “yes” to Botox,
Botox Smooths Dynamic Lines and Wrinkles
Not sure what dynamic wrinkles are? These wrinkles are the ones that are accentuated or pop when you make facial expressions. Smile in the mirror, and if the lines and wrinkles that drive you crazy are even more prominent, these can be treated with Botox. This means that Botox can typically smooth away,
- Crow’s feet
- Forehead wrinkles
- “11s” (lines between the eyebrows)
- Nasolabial lines (lines around the nose and mouth)
Botox cannot treat lines and wrinkles caused by sun damage or gravity.
Botox Only Takes a Couple of Minutes To Administer
Another bonus of getting Botox is that a qualified dermatologist can easily administer this in a matter of minutes. Even those with busy schedules can find time to schedule Botox. Some patients even choose to use their lunch breaks. Yes, it’s that fast, and discomfort is minimal. Worried about discomfort? Talk with your dermatologist about icing or numbing ointments before getting Botox.
Aftercare is Important After Getting Botox
Yes, getting Botox is minimally invasive. You can return to your regularly scheduled program fairly quickly; however, it’s important not to put on makeup, massage or touch the area for at least four hours. You should also avoid exercise or workouts for 24 hours after getting Botox. You also will not want to lie down for four hours after getting injections.
Results Last About 3-4 Months, on Average
Botox provides temporary results, lasting anywhere from 3-6 months. Age, the severity of your lines and other factors will impact how long Botox lasts for you; however, the good news is that if you love the results you get with Botox, a dermatologist can provide you with subsequent treatments to refresh your look once or twice a year.
Want to refresh your appearance with Botox? If so, talk with your dermatologist to discuss your cosmetic goals to see if Botox is the right option for you.
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