When Moles Are a Concern

When Moles Are a Concern

If you’re an average woman or man, you probably have 10-40 moles scattered about your face and body. Most moles are benign (i.e., noncancerous) and nothing to worry about. However, some moles change from benign to abnormal and may proceed to skin cancer. New moles may also be a concern.

Our expert dermatologists at Specialists in Dermatology recommend that you become familiar with your skin and all its moles. We advise surveying your moles every month and getting a skin cancer screening once a year.

What should you look for when you look at your moles? Read on to find out more about when a mole is normal and when it’s a concern.

Normal moles don’t do much

Those clusters of highly colored melanocytes (i.e., pigment cells) known as moles that most adults have don’t do much when they’re normal and benign. Normal moles are either common nevi (small and distinct) or congenital nevi (present from birth). 

Some of your longest-lasting normal moles, particularly congenital nevi, may grow over time. But they should grow very slowly.

As you age, some of your normal moles may also sprout a hair or two, change shape slightly, or get lighter in color. Other than that, a normal mole is pretty boring. They tend to be:

Most normal moles never become cancerous; however, some do, particularly congenital nevi. You’re more likely to develop skin cancer if you have an abundance of moles (i.e., far more than 40).

Change is a concern

A normal mole can develop into an abnormal mole. Abnormal moles are more dynamic than normal moles and therefore less “boring.” A normal mole becomes an abnormal mole if it changes appearance quickly.

New moles that appear after you’re 30 years old could also be a concern. Be sure to let us know if you notice a new mole. 

Some moles change into a deadly type of skin cancer known as melanoma. You can use the ABCDE mnemonic to remember when to get a changing mole evaluated. Contact us if you notice features such as:

Other changes that require immediate medical evaluation include moles that:

Don’t worry that you’re over-reacting when it comes to your moles. Finding a cancerous mole in its early stages usually means that it can be quickly cured with a specialized procedure called Mohs surgery.

Large, irregular moles are a concern

Dysplastic moles are those that are large and irregularly shaped or colored. Dysplastic moles may be inherited. If you have one dysplastic mole, you probably have a great number of other moles, perhaps even more than 100.

If you have dysplastic moles or more than the normal number of moles, you’re at increased risk for skin cancer. Contact us to find out how often you should be screened so that any worrisome changes can be addressed immediately.

We may also recommend surgery to remove large dysplastic moles. Dysplastic moles are those that are most likely to develop into malignant melanoma.

If you’re concerned about your moles, or if it’s time for your annual skin cancer screening, contact us at Specialists in Dermatology in Houston, Texas, or The Woodlands, Texas, today. Phone the office nearest you, or use our online form.

You Might Also Enjoy...

5 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Pick at Your Acne

You have another big pimple, right before your big date. Or meeting. You wish you could just scrape it off your face. Resist that temptation: Picking at your acne or popping your pimples is never a good idea. Here are five reasons why.

Help for Your Rosacea

Rosy cheeks are cute when you’re a kid, but when your cheeks are always rosy — and rough — you probably have a skin condition called rosacea. Without treatment and management, rosacea worsens and may disfigure your nose and face.

Complications of Psoriasis

Psoriasis is more than itchy, rashy skin. It’s an autoimmune disease that can lead to serious complications, including psoriatic arthritis and even lymphoma. Treatment slows down psoriasis’s progression and offers you relief now and in the future.

Am I at Risk for Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer may seem too abstract to worry you. After all, you’ve never gotten it, and you might not even know anyone who has. But skin cancer rates rise every year, and your personal risk rises as you age, too. Here’s how to lower yours.

Different Types of Eczema

You itch. You ooze. Your skin looks rashy, red, and just plain mad. If you’re constantly scratching itches and rashes, you may have a skin condition called eczema. What causes eczema and how do you treat it? That all depends on the type of eczema.