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November 16, 2020
Moles on the skin are small growths on the body that are formed by a cluster of melanocytes. They affect people of any age but are more common in people between ages 10 and 40.
Moles can either be raised or flat and are typically smaller than a pencil eraser (around 1/2 inch). They can appear anywhere on your skin, including the eyelids, ears, scalp, lips, soles, palms, anal area, and genitals.
In medical terms, moles are called melanocytic nevus (plural nevi), and they are composed of masses of melanocytes -a pigment that produces skin cells. Moles may be brown, black, tan, reddish-brown, purple, red, or skin-colored.
Intense sun exposure during early childhood years increases the possibility of developing moles.
Some moles occur due to hormonal changes during adolescence or pregnancy. During teenagehood, moles tend to grow more prominent, and during pregnancy, they tend to be darker.
Whether Asian, African, Caucasian, or African, anyone from any race can develop moles - and animals get them too.
Most people mistake freckles and other skin conditions for moles. Let’s explore their fundamental differences.
Numerous skin lesions may appear like moles. They include:
Moles and freckles belong to the same class of ephelides as they appear darker than the surrounding skin. Moles can either be raised or flat, while freckles are flat always.
Freckles and sunspots, also called lentigines, can occur due to increased melanin amount (a skin pigment that gives the skin its color). People prone to freckles also develop moles. Freckles are tan, light brown, and slightly reddish, and they are more prominent during sunny months and occur mostly on people with a fair complexion.
Most people with red and blonde hair and blue and green eyes are more vulnerable to skin spots. Avoiding the sun, wearing sun-protective gears, or applying sunscreen can help suppress the appearance of some types of freckles and moles.
Skin cancer (melanoma) can also masquerade as a mole. If you develop a suspicious mole, be sure to visit a doctor to examine changing or irregular moles.
In some instances, moles develop on top of or adjacent to a non-mole growth like seborrheic keratosis or a freckle. If in doubt about the moles on your skin, visit a dermatologist to do a skin examination and possibly a biopsy.
Moles present at birth are mostly congenital and are present even in fetal development. However, moles tend to be more prominent during teenagerhood into young adulthood. They grow slowly and not in proportion to the average body growth.
Other types of moles appear later in life due to genetic or environmental factors like sun exposure.
In most cases, moles appear in the second and third decades of life. After 30 years, most people do not get new regular moles.
Adults often get non-mole skin growths such as lentigines, "liver spots," freckles, and seborrheic keratoses in late adulthood.
The development of new moles after 35 years requires close examination by an expert and possibly a biopsy. When an adult develops a new mole, it could be due to melanoma, which is cancer.
Skin lesions that appear too dark raised, swelling or bleeding also need medical evaluation.
There are three basic types or groups of moles. They include:
Regular moles are harmless and benign. These are symmetrical and have uniform color and regular borders. They may appear raised or flat. They are smaller than a pencil eraser. Rarely do regular moles turn cancerous.
Irregular moles, also called dysplastic nevi, are asymmetrical and have uneven colors and irregular borders. These types of moles are often hereditary.
They tend to be flat or nearly flat, and their diameter is bigger than a pencil eraser. Having more than 20 irregular moles or a presence of a giant congenital mole with a size greater than 8 to 10 inches confer an increased risk of becoming melanomas.
Cancerous moles are skin lesions that are often asymmetrical and highly irregular.
People with more than 50 moles should do skin medical examinations monthly or visit a dermatologist regularly to do a full-body moles evaluation to help detect early signs of melanoma.
People who reside in sunny areas tend to have more moles than people of the same skin type but are raised with less sun exposure.
Those with fair skin have a higher likelihood of getting moles than dark people. Sunspots that appear due to severe sunburns are not moles.
A majority of moles require no treatment as they are harmless. However, people may want to have them removed if:
According to anecdotal reports, there are DIY ways to remove moles at home. These methods have no scientific proof, and some could even be risky to try. You should consult your doctor before you try any of them.
Some of the products that you can use to get rid of moles at home include:
Some people cut off the mole with a razor blade, and others use mole removal creams from pharmacies and online stores. Be careful with some of these methods as some can be very dangerous. Also, visit a doctor before trying any of these methods to ensure that the lesion you’re treating is a mole and not cancer.
This is a less invasive procedure. In this technique, the doctor uses a small thin blade to cut around and under the mole without numbing the patient. This technique works for smaller moles, and the area does not require sutures(stitches).
This is a technique used to remove large moles. The mole is removed using a punch device or a scalpel. The doctor numbs the skin and cuts the mole and a surrounding margin of healthy skin. In this technique, sutures are necessary.
If doctors detect melanoma in its very early stages, the mole is removed through a simple surgery. But if seen later, the doctor removes the mole plus some healthy skin surrounding it, usually referred to as safety margin. If it has spread to other body parts and lymphatic systems, the patient requires further treatment.
Yes. Often moles disappear entirely on their own at some point. But if a mole is cancerous and it disappears, cancer continues to spread. So it’s good to get a precise medical evaluation of the mole on the skin.
While it’s not possible to stop a mole from forming, you can minimize your chances of developing malignant cancerous moles by:
Minor surgical procedures are done to remove moles. This requires proper wound care and postoperative management. If the wound gets infected, it can cause complications. Always keep the wound clean and covered to avoid infections.
If the resulting wound is too deep, it culminates into a scar. These scars can either be keloids or hypertrophic. They develop because of too much production of collagen that occurs in the wound healing process.
To avoid abnormal scarring, the patient should consider using clinically-proven products that are both effective and safe for all skin types, like topical silicone. Topical silicone is a safe product that has been in use for the last 30 years.
Silicone works through collagen regulation and dermal hydration as it encapsulates and hydrates the scar for a period. The fibroblasts in the inner skin layer scale collagen production to an average level, which helps the scar tissue to blend perfectly with the surrounding skin.
If you have moles on the skin that aren’t changing and don’t bother you, then you don’t have anything to worry about. However, if your moles are irregular, changes in size, color, and shape affect your appearance and are irritating when dressing. You need to see a dermatologist help you with an ideal remedy and examine it further.
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