A Common Skin Condition

Moles—also known as Nevi (or Nevus, for only one)—are very common. Almost every adult has a few at the very least, and they usually begin to appear on the skin when you are younger (though some can develop as you get older). They usually increase in number during adolescence and puberty, often appearing as brown bumps on the skin though they can also be skin-colored, colorless, pink, or red in color. Moles can also be very dark in color, sometimes looking bluish-grey or almost black, and can even have hair growing out of them. They can be round or flat and usually do not change much from month to month. In the vast majority of cases, moles do not present any kind of medical risk and are only cosmetic concerns. If you’re concerned about the presence of one or more moles, reach out to the Certified Dermatology location that is most convenient for you. We can help you assess the nature of your mole and guide you through your options for removal.

Causes for Concern

For the most part, most moles are benign and not cancerous. When a child develops a mole, that mole may change as he or she gets older and grows. The mole can sometimes grow bigger, or change its color to become darker or lighter. Often, these changes are not an issue or cause for concern. 

In adults, however, these changes are a bit more worrisome. When examining your own skin, be on the lookout for any mole or growth that is new or changing in any way. Not all new growths or lesions that change are bad, but some are. The earlier these are identified, the better. 

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Following the “Ugly Duckling” Rule

The “ugly duckling” rule is one method that should be applied when examining your skin: Look for anything that stands out differently from the rest of the growths or moles that you see on your skin. Another simple guide is what we call “The ABCs of Moles.”

Asymmetry

Most benign moles are symmetric. This means is similarly shaped on either side. Many malignant moles appear to be asymmetric and do not have a consistent shape.

Border

The borders or edges have a tendency to be irregular and jagged in cancerous or abnormal moles. Many benign growths have very smooth borders and edges. 

Color

Most benign moles are made up of one color. Moles or growths that have many different colors are often considered to be cause for concern and require examination. 

Diameter

Most benign moles tend to be smaller than malignant ones. Malignant or abnormal moles are usually larger than the size of a pencil eraser but can sometimes be smaller.

Evolution

Benign moles usually remain stable and unchanged over time. Any change in size, color, elevation, texture, or other traits should be a warning sign.

Understanding Mole Removal

The easiest way to remove a mole is through a technique that we call “shave removal.” During this procedure, the mole is numbed with an injectable local numbing agent. Once the area is prepped, your doctor will shave the mole down until it is flush with the surrounding skin. 

The mole will then be placed in a specimen jar and sent for evaluation by a dermatopathologist (a doctor who can examine the mole and tell us whether any further treatment is needed). We’ll provide you with detailed aftercare instructions before the date of your procedure.

It’s important to never, ever attempt any kind of mole removal at home, by yourself, for any reason. While it might seem like a relatively simple procedure, the truth is that mole removal (just like any kind of surgery) requires extensive training to be performed without risk.

If you think that you might be dealing with a potentially cancerous mole or are interested in mole removal for other reasons, our team is here to help. Reach out to Certified Dermatology at a location near you and speak with our team to set up your initial appointment today.

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When to Remove a Mole

A mole should be removed if it looks suspicious or concerning for any type of skin cancer or abnormal cells. During my evaluation, you will learn whether or not your dermatologist thinks your mole is suspicious and needs to be removed. If a mole is often bothersome or gets irritated or traumatized because of its location, it can also be removed to avoid further trauma. 

Keeping Your Moles Healthy

Not all moles have to be removed, and it’s very possible to continue living a completely normal life with the presence of one or more moles. Still, it’s important that you do everything in your power to ensure that your moles stay as healthy as possible.

Some important tips to keep your moles healthy include:

  • Applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher, at least 20 to 30 minutes before spending time in the sun
  • Taking care to re-apply sunscreen every 60 to 90 minutes
  • Avoiding peak sun hours, between 10 am and 2 pm
  • Wearing sun-protective clothing
  • Avoiding sunburns at all costs
  • Avoiding any kind of artificial tanning beds
  • Being sure to examine your skin once a month
  • Remaining on the lookout for new or changing spots
  • Having a yearly skin examination to ensure your skin is in good health
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