Moles are growths that can appear anywhere on the skin. They can be rough or smooth, flat or raised, single or in multiples and may be a variety of different colors. They occur when cells that are responsible for skin pigmentation, known as melanocytes, grow in clusters instead of being spread out across theskin. Generally, moles are less than on-quarter inch in size. Most moles appear by the age of 20, although some moles may appear later in life. Most adults have between 10 and 40 moles. Because they last about 50 years, moles may disappear by themselves over time.
Most moles are harmless, but a change in size, shape, color or texture could be indicative of a cancerous growth. Even small changes in a mole including itching, bleeding or pain, may indicate a change that needs to be evaluated by a Dermatologist.
People with 50 or more moles are at a greater risk for developing a skin cancer and should receive skin exams annually.
In some cases, abnormal moles may become painful, itchy, scaly or bleed. It's important to keep an eye on your moles so that you can catch any changes early. We recommend doing a visual check of your body monthly, including ALL areas, even those areas not typically exposed to the sun.
Use the American Academy of Dermatology's ABCDE's as a guide for assessing whether or not a mole may be becoming cancerous:
Asymmetry: Half the mole does not match the other half in size, shape or color.
Border: The edges of the mole are irregular or blurred.
Color: The mole is not the same color throughout.
Diameter: The mole is larger than one-quarter inch in size.
Elevation: The mole becomes elevated or raised from the skin.
If any of these conditions occur, please make an appointment to see one or our dermatologists right away. The doctor may do a biopsy of the mole to determine if it is or isn't cancerous and/or may surgically remove it.
In general, all patients should have a routine skin exam by a Board Certified Dermatologist annually. Patients should seek evaluation as soon as possible for any new lesion, lesion experiencing any change and for lesions meeting the AAD's ABCDE's of moles.