MOLES: TREATMENT AND PREVENTION
Moles, also known as nevi, may be pigmented or skin-colored. They arise in the pigment-producing cells of the skin (melanocytes). While moles may be congenital (present at birth), they more commonly develop throughout childhood. Moles may be flat or elevated, and grow to about the size of a pencil eraser. They can develop anywhere on the body and may disappear with time. Moles are typically brown or black, but may range in color from pink to tan or skin-toned. Most adults have between 10 and 40 moles. A changing or irregular mole should be looked at by a Water’s Edge dermatologist right away, as it may indicate cancer. All moles should be examined by a dermatologist annually and suspicious lesions should be biopsied. Moles also may be removed if they become irritated or for cosmetic reasons. Any mole that grows, changes in shape or color, or bleeds should be evaluated by a Water’s Edge Dermatology practitioner.
Types of Moles
Your Water’s Edge dermatologist can tell you if your skin moles are benign or could be cancerous. The following types of moles often require treatment:
ATYPICAL MOLE (DYSPLASTIC NEVUS)
These are often large with an irregular shape and uneven coloring. More than four atypical moles suggests a higher chance of developing melanoma (a serious form of skin cancer).
Congenital moles are present at birth and can range in size from small to giant (larger than 20 centimeters). Approximately 1% of the population is born with congenital moles. Having large or giant congenital moles increases the risk of developing melanoma.
Spitz nevus so closely resemble melanoma that dermatologists often cannot tell the difference by looking at them, so they are generally biopsied. These moles are usually pink, raised and dome-shaped, and they may bleed or ooze.
Acquired moles appear after birth and are common, but people with numerous acquired moles have a higher risk for developing melanoma.
Treatment for Moles
Moles are common, but if you have more than 50 moles or you find a mole displaying any of the ABCDEs of Melanoma Detection, which are detailed below, visit your Water’s Edge dermatologist. You may need mole treatment to determine whether your mole is cancerous. Your particular mole treatment will depend on factors such as the size of your mole and its location. If your mole looks suspicious, your Water’s Edge dermatologist may have it biopsied to confirm whether cancer is present. If the mole is cancerous, further treatment is necessary. Seek mole treatment if:
- Your mole causes discomfort
- Your mole bleeds or is irritated
- You find the mole unattractive
- Your mole changes shape or size
- Your mole has an irregular shape
- You suspect skin cancer
Water’s Edge Dermatology offers two mole treatment options: surgical excision and surgical saving. Surgical excision involves surgically removing the entire mole from the skin and then closing the wound with stitches. With surgical shaving, the mole is saved off the skin with a surgical blade. Your Water’s Edge dermatologist will determine the right mole treatment for you.
Moles cannot be prevented, but you should examine your skin regularly to look for any new moles or changes in existing moles. Use the ABCDEs of Melanoma Detection to help you recognize moles needing further examination by your Water’s Edge dermatologist:
A — Asymmetry; one half is unlike the other
B — Border is irregular, scalloped, or poorly defined
C — Color is varied from one area to another
D — Diameter; melanomas are usually greater than 6 mm
E — Evolving; a mole or skin lesion that looks different or has changed
Steps to reduce development of melanoma in moles:
- Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 and reapply every two hours.
- Wear protective clothing, sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat.
- Stay in the shade when the sun’s rays are strongest, between 10 am and 4:30 pm.
- Avoid tanning beds; they have been proven to cause skin cancer, including melanoma.
- Give yourself a regular skin examination and have suspicious moles examined by your Water’s Edge dermatologist.