A mole, nevus or beauty mark is a growth on your skin; it ranges in color, from your natural skin tone, to brown or black. Moles are common to have, and most are harmless. They are not contagious and should not itch, hurt, or blood. Moles can appear anywhere on your skin and at any age. However, most skin moles appear during childhood and the first 20 years of life. Moles can last as long as 50 years, during which they change slowly, becoming raised and lighter in hue. However, some moles do not change, and some disappear over time. People can have between 10 to 40 Chevy Chase moles/nevi by the time they are adults. While most moles are harmless, some may be cancerous. Therefore, see your healthcare provider or dermatologist if you suspect a mole is abnormal.
What causes skin moles?
Usually, the cells in your skin spread throughout the skin as they grow. Moles occur when these cells grow in a group instead of spreading evenly throughout your skin. Most moles are made of melanocytes – these cells produce the pigment that gives your skin its natural color. Anyone can have moles, but exposure to sunlight elevates your risk of this skin growth.
What makes skin moles darker?
Moles may become darker during pregnancy and puberty and after sun exposure. The change during pregnancy is often due to hormonal effects. Besides darkening, they may also become more extensive. However, any abnormal changes in a mole require a medical evaluation.
Why you should check your skin for moles
The skin is the largest body organ and one of the few you can see. Therefore, it is essential to look out for any abnormal signs. Checking your skin for moles is an active step toward preventing skin cancer. Everyone needs to be proactive about preventing skin cancer, but this is especially true if you have many moles on your skin, fair skin, a first-degree relative with many moles. Besides using SPF 30 sunscreen daily and limiting your exposure to sunlight, examining your moles increases the chances of early detection and treatment of skin cancer.
Dermatologists recommend examining your skin every month. Most moles are benign, but some can be cancerous; therefore, have your mole evaluated by a specialist if you notice any changes in the mole’s color or appearance.
What to look for when examining skin moles
You can examine your skin with a mirror or ask someone to help you. Check all body areas but pay special attention to parts mainly exposed to the sun, including your face, hands, legs, arms, chest, and back. You want to have your mole checked immediately by a dermatologist if it displays any of the signs listed below.
- Asymmetry. One half of your skin mole is different from the other half.
- Border. If your mole has blurred, ragged, or irregular boundaries or edges.
- Color. Your mole has shades of multiple colors like brown, black, tan, blue, white, or red.
- Diameter. The size of your mole is more significant than that of a pencil’s eraser.
- Elevation/Evolution. If your mole was once flat and is now raised, or it changes over a short time.
If you suspect an abnormal mole, visit your specialist at Ali Hendi, MD for evaluation.