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Moles are quite common and can occur anywhere on the skin. They may be single or appear in groups and are dark in color. Early childhood through age twenty is the time when most moles are discovered. Having up to 40 moles by the time a person is an adult is nothing unusual. Fortunately, most moles are benign.
Moles are not the same as lentignines, freckles or a condition called papulosis nigra – all of which can be removed simple with diolite laser.
Mole removal, whether for cosmetic or preventive reasons, require a fair level of surgical skills to prevent unpleasant scarring and you would be wise to choose a dermatologic or plastic surgeon.
Concern over the presence of moles on the skin is mainly an issue of appearance for most persons. A dermatologist can remove moles from skin using one of several techniques. It is best to not try removal yourself. If a mole is suspicious looking, a dermatologist can run tests to determine if the mole is cancerous and/or should be removed. Consult a dermatologist if a mole begins to crack, bleed, ooze or become itchy or painful.
Although moles are a normal skin condition, care should be taken because some moles exhibit changes in size, shape or color. A few moles will become raised up over the skin level. Others may show no change or even disappear. Hair might also be seen growing on a mole.
A visit to a professional dermatologist can put to rest many concerns a person may have about a mole. Any abnormality of the skin should be looked at and possibly biopsied to be sure it is not cancerous. Below are some common questions people have when they visit a dermatologist’s office.
What is a mole?
By most definitions, a mole is a group of cells that grow in a group rather than being spread over the skin. The cells are melanocytes. These cells generate pigments that add color to skin. With exposure to the sun, moles may darken. Hormonal effects during pregnancy may also cause moles to darken. Moles are different than other skin abnormalities. Skin tags, warts and freckles are not the same as moles.
Where are moles likely to be located?
Moles can appear anywhere on the skin. Moles on the face might be referred to as beauty marks and you’ll some celebrities who capitalize on having them. Areas that are exposed to the sun are more likely to have mole growth. Moles are usually found on the hands, arms, chest, neck, face, back, and ears.
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When do moles appear?
Moles that appear at birth are called congenital nevi. This type of mole appears in only about one of 100 people. Birth moles are more apt to develop into cancer, melanoma, than other moles that appear during early years. Moles that occur after age 20 are of concern to dermatologists because those types of moles may develop into cancer.
Moles are not a problem in most cases unless they exhibit changes. If there are any changes, it is time to consult a dermatologist. Moles are a normally occurring condition that may be hereditary in some persons. To prevent development of melanoma, have the skin examined at least yearly. Photographs can be helpful in determining if changes are occurring.
When should I be worried about a mole?
Moles that look different and moles that change color, size, shape, height or condition are suspicious. Many moles are hereditary and passed from generation to generation in genes. These inherited moles are atypical (dysplastic) nevi. They may be larger than average and have irregular shapes or color. These atypical moles are most likely to develop into melanoma skin cancer.
Dermatologists use a simple test for determining the problem potential of a mole. This is a group of characteristics referred to as the ABCDEs of melanoma.
- “A” stands for Asymmetry. Is each half of the mole alike or different?
- “B” stands for Border. Is the edge of the mole smooth or raggedy, irregular or blurry?
- “C” is Color. Are there color variations in this mole?
- “D” is Diameter. If the mole diameter is bigger than a pencil eraser tip or larger than 7mm, it should be examined professionally.
- “E” refers to Elevation. Is the mole raised up above the skin level?
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How are moles removed?
A mole may be removed for cosmetic reasons or for examination. The dermatologist may remove an entire mole or a segment for examination or biopsy. If the mole is cancerous, the entire mole should be cut out and the wound closed. Cosmetic removal of moles is a simple procedure done under a local anesthetic in the doctor’s office. Cutting with a scalpel or cauterizing the mole is a quick solution.
Is there any prevention for moles?
Problems can be reduced by limiting sun exposure. Use sunblock when you are in sunlight and avoid sunburn.
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If you would like to schedule an in-person consultation or learn which treatment is right for you, please fill out the form on this page and one of our knowledgeable medical staff members at Total Dermatology will reach out to you promptly. You can also call our Irvine office directly to schedule. (949) 727-3800
Total Dermatology serves the Irvine, CA area.
*Individual Results May Vary