Posts for tag: Mole
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.