Moles: Information you need to know
Moles, also known as nevi, are skin lesions that grow on the skin. They tend to grow throughout the first 20 years of life, and may appear alone or in clusters. Moles may be black, brown, blue, red, pink or a similar color to your skin. Adults are usually found to have 10-40 moles in their body. Fortunately, most moles are harmless and do not cause any pain at all unless they are rubbed against or bumped into. Moles are described as round and grow a few millimeters. Some are even found with hair.
Moles usually form when skin cells are not fully spread throughout the skin. These skin cells, also known as melanocytes, instead cluster together in a small area. This event will then cause moles to appear.
Hormonal changes such as the ones that take place during adolescence and pregnancy can cause moles to appear. This event may cause the color and size of the current moles to change. Sun may also change the color of the moles – making them darker.
Fact: 1 in every 100 people is born with a mole; these nevi are known as congenial moles. It also increases the risk of developing melanoma.
Differentiating a Mole from an Atypical Mole
It is important to distinguish a regular mole to an atypical mole. If a mole rapidly changes in appearance (shape or size), itch or bleed, then it is an atypical mole. Atypical moles are often associated with a skin cancer known as melanoma.
Below is a list of ways to find out whether you have melanoma or atypical moles:
- Moles have multiple colors
- Moles are oddly shaped or asymmetrical
- Moles have poorly defined borders
- Moles are larger than 6 mm
- Have more than 50 moles
It is imperative that patients with moles undergo annual check-ups. If caught early, melanoma can be cured.
How a Mole is Removed
There are various ways to remove a mole. However, it is safer if a dermatologist, like the ones at Healthpointe, handle that non-invasive technique. If any of the mole removal techniques are expected to cause pain, then a dermatologist will numb the area before they initiate the operation. Bleeding may occur, which is why a dermatologist will administer an anti-bleeding medicine.
After the procedures, an antibiotic ointment or cream ointment along with a bandage will be applied to prevent scars. However, dermatologists may refer patients for a biopsy if he/she suspects the mole to be cancerous.
Below is a list of techniques that may be used to remove moles:
- Burning: A mole can be burned off through the use of a wire emitting electrical currents. The currents heat up the wire and allow the upper layers of the skin to burn off. This method will often require multiple sessions; however, cauterization will keep bleeding to a minimum.
- Freezing: Liquid nitrogen may be sprayed or swabbed onto a mole that rises from the skin. While this may cause a temporary blister to form, it will heal completely.
- Surgical Excision/Shave: Moles can be removed using surgical scissors, scalpel or shaver. This usually causes bleeding, so it is important to administer anti-bleeding medicine. If mole extends underneath the skin, then a deeper cut may be required to ensure that it does not grow back.
It is important to refrain from using home remedy mole removals, such as lotions, nail clippers or pastes. These methods can lead to scarring, bleeding and infection. Moles that are removed improperly face a high probability of returning.
This is why it is important to seek the assistance of a dermatologist.
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