Woman looking at mole

A common mole is a skin growth that occurs when pigment cells (melanocytes) cluster together. Typically, adults have around 10 to 40 common moles. On the other hand, unusual moles are bigger and have odd shapes, colors, or bumps. If you have light skin and a lot of moles or freckles, you might get atypical moles anywhere on your body. It's common, with about 1 in 10 Americans having them. They're not cancerous but can raise your chances of melanoma skin cancer. Be sure to monitor them and see a dermatologist if they change.

What is the recommended frequency for getting your skin checked?

You must see a dermatologist once a year if you have the following:

  • More than 50 moles
  • Unusual moles
  • A family history of melanoma

Scheduling regular check-ups with your doctor is necessary if you have had skin cancer, as it will help determine the frequency of your visits. It's crucial to be aware of any changes in your skin and check yourself regularly.

How do you check for Atypical moles?

Performing regular self-exams to identify atypical moles or other serious skin conditions is suggested by dermatologists. When checking for potential skin cancer, there are several signs to look out for including:

  • Asymmetry, where one half of the mark looks different from the other
  • Irregular or poorly-defined border or a scalloped edge
  • Color variation is also a warning sign - melanomas can have any combination of shades of tan,  brown, black, white, red, or blue

Any mark larger than a pencil eraser or if the mole is getting larger, changing colors, or showing new symptoms of bleeding, itching, or pain, should be examined by a doctor

Any unusual growth on your skin should be addressed immediately.

Be attentive and keep an eye out for any indications of the "ugly duckling" sign, which means a mole or lesion that appears different from others in the surrounding area, such as having a unique shade. If you notice a mole or lesion, you should speak with a dermatologist to find out if it is a reason for worry.

Is it necessary to remove an atypical mole?

If your moles remain unchanged, they are likely benign, and removing them is unnecessary. However, if a medical professional deems it necessary to remove an atypical mole, typically due to signs of it becoming cancerous, they will perform an elliptical excision. This procedure entails removing the atypical mole and some surrounding skin as a preventive measure against any existing cancer from spreading outward. After removing the tissue, a pathologist will examine it for cancerous cells.

Suppose there is a history of skin cancer and atypical moles in your family. In that case, it's best to consult a dermatologist to monitor these moles and determine the most appropriate action closely.

What are the risk factors for skin cancer?

Having risk factors for skin cancer increases the chances of developing it. However, not having risk factors does not guarantee immunity.

Consult your doctor if you possess any of the risk factors for skin cancer:

  • Extended exposure to either natural or artificial sunlight
  • Having a fair complexion, which includes:
    • Having freckles
    • Green or blue eyes
    • Easily sunburned skin
    • Hair that is blonde or red
  • Sunburn history
  • Skin cancer in the family or personal history
  • Specific genes or hereditary syndromes, such as basal cell nevus syndrome
  • Long-lasting skin inflammation
  • A weakened immune system
  • Arsenic exposure
  • Radiation treatment in the past

Certified Dermatology is Here to Help

It's common for 1 in 10 Americans to have atypical moles, with a higher risk of melanoma. However, only some people with atypical moles will develop melanoma. Identifying those at higher risk is crucial. You can trust the dermatologists at Certified Dermatology to provide top-quality skincare and innovative solutions for all skin issues, including atypical moles. Invest in healthy, radiant skin today by scheduling an appointment with us today. We have dermatologists in Cherry Hill, Easton, Lakewood, and more, ready to help you. Visit our Location Finder here.

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