Some of the most common pathologies associated with the skin are moles. Still, it is often difficult to differentiate between the cancerous and benign ones. To broaden our understanding of skin moles, we have invited Dr. Sony Sherpa to better understand skin moles, their different types, risks, and treatment modalities.
Hello, Doctor. thank you so much for giving your valuable time out of your busy schedule to speak to us. So, starting with today’s topic, what are skin moles, and how common are they?
Moles are a common form of skin growth that often appear as small, dark brown spots caused by clusters of pigmented cells. Most people have 10 to 30 moles out of which some may change the appearance while others may fade away over time.
Some moles may be present since birth while many of the moles develop during Adulthood which is usually related to exposure to the sun and due to the effects of Melanin production. They can occur anywhere on the skin, including ears, eyelids, lips, genitals, and the scalp.
So, are there different types of moles?
Yes, broadly speaking, there are three different types of moles based on their origin and etiology. They are congenital, acquired, and atypical moles.
Congenital moles are present at birth and affect about 1 in every 100 babies. They are usually flat with variable color and are usually not cancerous.
Whereas acquired mole generally develops later in life and usually appear due to damage by sunlight. They are usually asymmetrical with irregular borders and may have multiple colors. These moles rarely turn into melanoma or cancer but having more than 20-25 irregular moles may increase the overall risk of developing melanoma. These forms of mole usually darken with age.
Atypical moles are usually larger than other forms of moles. They have irregular borders and are usually asymmetrical. These types of moles are at higher risk of turning malignant.
How does someone know if a mole is either cancerous or not?
Yes, this is one of the commonly asked questions by the patients. The vast majority of moles are not dangerous. However, if you notice changes in mole’s shape, size, color, or texture, it is good to see your dermatologist. If the mole starts to bleed, ooze, itch, or if it is tender, do visit your dermatologist.
Can we self-examine moles for cancerous changes?
Yes, the ABCDE guideline is used to diagnose them. If any of the signs from the guideline are present, have an appointment and get it checked immediately by a dermatologist. Special attention must be given to areas of skin that are often exposed to the sun like hands, arms, chest, neck, face, ears, legs, and back.
- Asymmetry: If one half of the mole is different from the other half
- Border: If there is a ragged, blurred, or irregular border
- Color: If there is variation in the color throughout
- Diameter: If it is larger than the eraser of a pencil
- Evolution: If the mole is changing in shape, size, color, or texture
Read Also: New Research Links Wrinkles to Skin Cancer
Are there any complications associated with moles?
Yes, there are several complications associated with them. Melanoma is the main complication among all. Various factors increase the risk of melanoma. Some include:
- Being born with a large mole: A mole is regarded as large if it is more than 5 centimeters in diameter.
- Presence of Unusual Moles: Larger and irregular shaped moles.
- Increased number of moles: Having usually more than 50 moles increases the risk of melanoma.
- Family history of Melanoma
Are there any preventive measures to limit the development of moles and their major complication-Melanoma?
Yes, there are certain preventive measures to limit the development of moles and melanoma.
- Protecting the skin: Several preventive measures to protect skin from UV radiation are to be taken as a strong association has been found between UV radiation and the development of melanoma.
- Avoid peak hours of the sun: Stay in the shade between 11 am and 3 pm when the sunlight is strongest.
- Use of Sunscreen: Apply sunscreen about 30 minutes before going outdoor. Sunscreen with SPF of at least 15 is recommended.
- Cover up: Sunglasses, long sleeves, hats, and other protective clothing to avoid UV rays.
- Avoid Tanning lamps and beds: Tanning lamps and beds emit UV rays and can increase the risk of skin cancer and hence, are better avoided.
- Watch for changes: If you have moles, you should be familiar with the location and pattern of your moles. One should regularly examine the skin to see for any changes as I have discussed earlier that may signal melanoma. Especially if you have a family history of melanoma, do a self-examination once a month.
It can be examined by standing in front of the mirror and doing a head to toe check including scalp, palms, fingernails, armpits, chest, legs, and feet. Also, check the genital areas and between the buttocks. If you see anything suspicious, consult your dermatologist as soon as possible.
How is the pathology of mole diagnosed?
Well, it is usually a clinical diagnosis. But if while examining, your dermatologist finds something suspicious, a biopsy is taken and is examined under a microscope. Further management is done based on reports.
Is it necessary to remove a mole?
Not all moles need to be removed. Some moles are removed due to cosmetic purposes, while others are removed due to melanoma concerns. They are removed by either Electrocautery or Shaving. Some of them may also be removed with a laser.
Are there any complications related to Mole removal?
Some scarring is usually left after mole removal which is mostly treated with chemical peels, laser, and other methods to lower pigmentation after they have healed.
Many of us got so much to learn about Skin moles, their types, risk, and how they should be managed. Once again thank you so much for your valuable time.
finally for our loyal followers please feel free to ask any questions related to moles in the comments area below!
Gilmore Health Q&A Sessions: