Moles: Everything You Need to Know
Moles… most adults have them, but few really understand them. What causes a mole? What do you need to do to take care of them? Does having moles mean you will get skin cancer? We’ve answers to your questions. Keep reading or call in and schedule an appointment with Dr. Matarasso for personalized advice.
What Is a Mole?
Moles are very common in adults. Most adults have at least a few, but many have more. Some are present at birth (called congenital nevi), but often they develop during childhood and adolescence. Moles can darken during pregnancy or from sun exposure. New moles as an adult are not common.
Moles occur when a type of cell known as a melanocyte grows in a cluster instead of being spread throughout the skin. Melanocytes are a type of cell that produce the pigment in the skin. They are also the type of cell that can develop melanoma, a dangerous type of skin cancer. Melanoma isn’t exclusive to moles however; it can develop anywhere on the skin and even in the eyes, digestive tract, etc. Most moles will never develop cancer.
At Home Mole Checks: What You Need to Know
You are more familiar with your skin than anyone else which puts you in a good position to watch for melanoma. You should perform regular checks on your skin. Look for changes (new moles, changes to existing ones, etc.) and come see Dr. Matarasso if you spot anything concerning. Many melanomas have irregular characteristics. To remember what to look for, use the ABCDE rule.
- Asymmetry: Look for moles where one side doesn’t match the other.
- Border: Ragged edges, notches, and blurred outlines need a second look by a doctor.
- Color: Moles can be many colors (black, brown, tan, gray, white, red, blue, etc.), but they are typically only one single color. Uneven or multiple colors warrant a visit to Dr. Matarasso.
- Diameter: Most melanomas are larger than 6 mm (about ¼ inch wide).
- Evolving: If you spot changes, come on in.
Melanomas can vary greatly in their appearance. Some have all the characteristics of a problem mole, while others have only a feature or two on the list. Other things to watch for include bleeding or itching. If you’re concerned, come see us. Dr. Matarasso can help you determine if a mole needs removal and testing. Melanoma is curable if caught early.
Professional Skin Cancer Checks
At home checks are important, but so are regular checks by a dermatologist. Come see Dr. Matarasso at least once a year for a skin cancer detection appointment, sooner if you find anything concerning during your home checks.
If Dr. Matarasso is concerned, he can remove a problem mole using Mohs surgery, a special type of skin cancer removal surgery that carefully removes all traces of cancer in a single surgery.