Keeping An Eye On Your Moles
It’s Not Too Soon For Your Venice Dermatologist To Check Your Moles
Almost every person has at least one mole on their skin. These raised, dark spots are made up of skin cells, called melanocytes, that have grown in a group instead of individually. Some people are born with these moles - sometimes called birthmarks. Others acquire moles throughout childhood and during their first 25 years, sometimes increasing during pregnancy. Some moles can form and darken from exposure to the sun, and some are inherited genetically. It’s quite normal to have from 10 - 40 of these brown or black spots appearing anywhere on the skin by the time you are an adult. And most of the time, they are absolutely harmless.
However, as the years pass, your mole(s) could slowly change becoming raised, changing color, growing hairs, and even disappearing. These changes may signal the presence of melanoma, or skin cancer. It’s important to pay attention to these changes to your skin and perform skin self-exams at least every three months (monthly if you have a relative with skin cancer) to see if your moles have changed. Any changes in your moles should be checked by a reputable dermatologist such as Wasserman Ulitsky Dermatology in Venice, Florida.
Types of Moles
Your local Venice dermatologist can analyze and determine your type of mole so that you know what to keep an eye on.
- Congenital moles. When a mole is present at birth, it is called congenital nevi. These types of moles can be different sizes and are sometimes called birthmarks. Congenital moles occur in about one in 100 people. These moles are slightly more likely to turn into melanoma (cancer) than moles that appear after birth.
- Acquired moles. This type of mole is most common and usually develops during childhood and into adulthood. Sun exposure is what usually causes these types of moles that are usually smaller than a quarter inch. These moles are usually benign and pose no risk, although sometimes they can turn into cancerous moles with age.
- Atypical moles. Atypical moles (also known as dysplastic nevi) are moles that are generally larger than average (larger than a pencil eraser) and irregular in shape. They are often uneven in color, with a dark brown center and usually have a fuzzy or blurry border. They may have black dots around the edge. The usually have both flat and raised parts. This type of mole runs in families and may cause you to have an increased risk of developing skin cancer.
How To Know If Your Mole Might Be Cancerous
Although most moles aren’t dangerous, it’s important to have them evaluated regularly. You can conduct regular self-exams using the well-known ABCDE of melanoma detection:
- Asymmetry – When one half of the mole doesn’t match the other.
- Border – A mole that has an irregular, scalloped, or poorly defined border.
- Color – Color of the mole varies from multiple shades of tan brown, black, blue, etc. A mole that consists of multiple shades of black, brown, white, red, and/or blue color. The color of the mole is not the same throughout or has shades of tan, brown, black, blue, white, or red.
- Diameter – Look for any change of shape with a diameter larger than that of a pencil eraser.
- Evolution – Watch for any moles or skin lesions that look different from the rest or are changing in size, shape or color. Also watch skin for:
- New moles: A mole that develops, especially if it appears after age 20
- Bothersome moles: A mole that bleeds, itches, or is painful
Even if your mole or birthmark is completely benign, you may want to have it removed because you find it unattractive. Cosmetic dermatology experts like our doctors at Wasserman Ulitsky Dermatology offer a variety of safe mole removal methods, depending on the depth, location, color, and other factors. These methods include:
- Laser or Pulsed-Light Therapy
- Surgical Excision
- Surgical Shave
Contact Wasserman Ulitsky Dermatology In Venice
It’s so important to consult your doctor or a dermatologist about a suspicious skin mole since it may be an early sign of malignant melanoma, which is a life-threatening form of skin cancer. This is where we can help. Did you know that Dr. Wasserman has particular interest and expertise in skin pathology and dermatologic surgery. He has published multiple articles in pathology and general dermatology in peer-reviewed medical journals, and he has written a book chapter on infectious disease. If you have a mole that you are concerned about, or would like removed, call your Venice, Florida dermatologist at (941) 484-8222.