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In today’s article, we’re going to be talking about the common mole. Almost all of us have them but what are they? And are they harmful? Let’s find out.

What are moles?

Moles are growths on the skin that are the result of melanocytes (pigment cells) that grow in clusters. This gives moles their distinctive darker color than the surrounding skin.

Moles tend to be evenly colored and can be pink, tan, or brown. Darker skinned people typically have darker moles, while more fair skinned people, especially with blonde hair, tend to have pink or lighter tan colored moles.

Almost every adult has a few common moles. They almost all show up by 25 years of age, and are above the waist.

The medical term for a mole is a “nevus”. When referring to multiple moles they are called “nevi”.

What types of moles are there?

There are several kinds of moles beyond the common mole:

  1. Atypical mole (dysplastic): These moles are typically larger than the eraser on the end of a pencil, have an odd (non-round) shape, and show more than one color. These moles can look like melanoma, but they aren’t cancerous.
  2. Congenital mole: This is a mole that a person is born with. This happens in roughly 1 in 100 people. The size can vary from small to large and having one increases your chance of melanoma.
  3. Spitz nevus: These moles typically appear by the time you’re 20 years old. It looks like melanoma. Most spitz nevi are pink, and can be multicolored. It’s raised and dome shaped. It may bleed or ooze.
  4. Acquired mole: This is a mole that appears after a person is born. These are most often a harmless common mole. The acquisition of 50 or more of them puts one at a higher risk for getting melanoma.

Are moles dangerous?

The common mole is not dangerous. However changes in a mole can indicate a problem. It’s possible for moles to turn cancerous.

Can moles become cancerous?

It’s more accurate to say that melanoma can often present in a way that makes it look like a mole. However there are some differences between the common mole and melanoma that we can look for. We call this the ABCDEs of melanoma.

Melanoma will exhibit one or more of the following traits:

A = Asymmetry. This is when one side looks different from another.
B = Border. Look for an irregular, scalloped, or poorly defined border.
C = Color. Look for multicolored moles. It can have shades of tan, brown, black, and less common white, red, or blue.
D = Diameter. Melanoma is typically greater than 6mm big (the size of a pencil eraser) when diagnosed, but they can be smaller when found.
E = Evolving. If the “mole” changes over time, especially in any of the ways just described, it’s evolving.

When should I have a dermatologist look at a mole?

If you see any of the ABCDE’s of melanoma, it’s time to make an appointment with a dermatologist. If you’re ever worried about a mole, that’s also a good time to make a dermatology appointment. Finally, we recommend an annual skin scan to detect melanoma as early as possible.

What are the treatments for moles?

Most moles don’t require treatment. Your dermatologist will remove a mole that’s bothersome, unattractive to the patient, or suspicious.

If the mole is melanoma, we highly recommend a mohs surgeon perform the removal procedure.

What can I do at home for moles?

The best thing you can do at home is to perform a self-exam to look for new moles and changes for existing moles on a regular basis. Here’s a worksheet from the American Academy of Dermatology that walks you through the process with a place to take notes on what you see.

Does Summit Plastic Surgery & Dermatology treat moles?

Yes! Our dermatology providers can help you with any concerning moles and/or perform an skin scan. In the event thatcancer is diagnosed, our Mohs Surgeon, Dr. Sica, can remove the area preserving the non-cancerous tissue. In the event the area is large enough to require plastic surgery, our highly qualified plastic surgeon Dr. Ricciardelli will perform thereconstruction and have you looking as good as new.

If you have a mole you’d like looked at or to schedule an annual skin scan, call our office at (910) 794-5355. If you have a history of skin cancer, we recommend having a bi-annual exam. If you have a history of melanoma it may be more often.We have three offices for your convenience: Wilmington, Hampstead, and Supply, NC.

In today’s article, we’re going to be talking about the common mole. Almost all of us have them but what are they? And are they harmful? Let’s find out.

What are moles?

Moles are growths on the skin that are the result of melanocytes (pigment cells) that grow in clusters. This gives moles their distinctive darker color than the surrounding skin.

Moles tend to be evenly colored and can be pink, tan, or brown. Darker skinned people typically have darker moles, while more fair skinned people, especially with blonde hair, tend to have pink or lighter tan colored moles.

Almost every adult has a few common moles. They almost all show up by 25 years of age, and are above the waist.

The medical term for a mole is a “nevus”. When referring to multiple moles they are called “nevi”.

What types of moles are there?

There are several kinds of moles beyond the common mole:

  1. Atypical mole (dysplastic): These moles are typically larger than the eraser on the end of a pencil, have an odd (non-round) shape, and show more than one color. These moles can look like melanoma, but they aren’t cancerous.
  2. Congenital mole: This is a mole that a person is born with. This happens in roughly 1 in 100 people. The size can vary from small to large and having one increases your chance of melanoma.
  3. Spitz nevus: These moles typically appear by the time you’re 20 years old. It looks like melanoma. Most spitz nevi are pink, and can be multicolored. It’s raised and dome shaped. It may bleed or ooze.
  4. Acquired mole: This is a mole that appears after a person is born. These are most often a harmless common mole. The acquisition of 50 or more of them puts one at a higher risk for getting melanoma.

Are moles dangerous?

The common mole is not dangerous. However changes in a mole can indicate a problem. It’s possible for moles to turn cancerous.

Can moles become cancerous?

It’s more accurate to say that melanoma can often present in a way that makes it look like a mole. However there are some differences between the common mole and melanoma that we can look for. We call this the ABCDEs of melanoma.

Melanoma will exhibit one or more of the following traits:

A = Asymmetry. This is when one side looks different from another.
B = Border. Look for an irregular, scalloped, or poorly defined border.
C = Color. Look for multicolored moles. It can have shades of tan, brown, black, and less common white, red, or blue.
D = Diameter. Melanoma is typically greater than 6mm big (the size of a pencil eraser) when diagnosed, but they can be smaller when found.
E = Evolving. If the “mole” changes over time, especially in any of the ways just described, it’s evolving.

When should I have a dermatologist look at a mole?

If you see any of the ABCDE’s of melanoma, it’s time to make an appointment with a dermatologist. If you’re ever worried about a mole, that’s also a good time to make a dermatology appointment. Finally, we recommend an annual skin scan to detect melanoma as early as possible.

What are the treatments for moles?

Most moles don’t require treatment. Your dermatologist will remove a mole that’s bothersome, unattractive to the patient, or suspicious.

If the mole is melanoma, we highly recommend a mohs surgeon perform the removal procedure.

What can I do at home for moles?

The best thing you can do at home is to perform a self-exam to look for new moles and changes for existing moles on a regular basis. Here’s a worksheet from the American Academy of Dermatology that walks you through the process with a place to take notes on what you see.

Does Summit Plastic Surgery & Dermatology treat moles?

Yes! Our dermatology providers can help you with any concerning moles and/or perform an skin scan. In the event thatcancer is diagnosed, our Mohs Surgeon, Dr. Sica, can remove the area preserving the non-cancerous tissue. In the event the area is large enough to require plastic surgery, our highly qualified plastic surgeon Dr. Ricciardelli will perform thereconstruction and have you looking as good as new.

If you have a mole you’d like looked at or to schedule an annual skin scan, call our office at (910) 794-5355. If you have a history of skin cancer, we recommend having a bi-annual exam. If you have a history of melanoma it may be more often.We have three offices for your convenience: Wilmington, Hampstead, and Supply, NC.

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