Posts for tag: Moles
Whether you have a mole, birthmark or warts, it is important to pay close attention to any skin abnormality to ensure they do not develop into a more serious condition. Regular self-exams and trips to your dermatologist are important in preventing further complications. While moles and birthmarks are normal and common, and warts are typically unpleasant but not serious, any of these conditions could develop into a more serious issue if you aren't paying attention.
Moles are common - almost everyone has a few and some people develop hundreds. Individuals with light skin tend to have more moles, with the average ranging from 10 to 40.
Some moles can increase the risk of developing skin cancer more than others. Performing regular self-exams helps you recognize the early warning signs of melanoma. When examining your moles, look for the ABCDEs of melanoma detection:
Asymmetry – one half is not like the other
Border – irregular, scalloped or poorly defined border
Color – varied from one area to another, shades of tan, brown and black
Diameter – melanomas are usually greater than 6mm
Evolving – a mole or skin lesion that looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape or color.
Warts are non-cancerous skin growths caused by a viral infection in the top layer of the skin. Viruses that cause warts are called human papillomavirus (HPV). Usually skin-colored and rough to the touch, warts can also be dark, flat and smooth. The appearance of a wart depends specifically on where it is growing. There are several kinds of warts, including:
Common warts – Usually grow on fingers, around the nails and on the backs of the hands.
Plantar Warts – Typically found on the soles of the feet.
- Flat Warts – Smaller and smoother than other warts, and tend to grow in large numbers.
Usually passed from person to person, warts can also be passed indirectly in some cases. The gap from first contact to the time the warts have grown large enough to be seen is often several months.
Birthmarks are areas of flat or raised discolored skin that are often on the body at birth or may develop shortly after birth. Birthmarks vary in color and may be brown, tan, black, blue, pink or red. Some birthmarks are only 'stains' on the surface of the skin, while others extend into the tissues under the skin or grow above the surface.
If you have a mole, birthmark or wart, it is important to visit your dermatologist for regular screenings in addition to self-exams at home. Though these are often harmless, it is important to keep a close eye on your ailments to prevent any further problems.
Although moles are usually harmless, in some cases they can become cancerous, causing melanoma. For this reason, it is important to regularly examine your skin for any moles that change in size, color, shape, sensation or that bleed. Suspicious or abnormal moles or lesions should always be examined by your dermatologist.
What to Look For
Remember the ABCDE's of melanoma when examining your moles. If your mole fits any of these criteria, you should visit your dermatologist as soon as possible.
- Asymmetry. One half of the mole does not match the other half.
- Border. The border or edges of the mole are poorly defined or irregular.
- Color. The color of the mole is not the same throughout or has shades of tan, brown, black, blue, white or red.
- Diameter. The diameter of a mole is larger than the eraser of a pencil.
- Evolution. The mole is changing in size, shape or color.
Moles can appear anywhere on the skin, including the scalp, between the fingers and toes, on the soles of the feet and even under the nails. The best way to detect skin cancer in its earliest, most curable stage is by checking your skin regularly and visiting our office for a full-body skin cancer screening. Use this guide to perform a self-exam.
- Use a mirror to examine your entire body, starting at your head and working your way to the toes. Also be sure to check difficult to see areas, including between your fingers and toes, the groin, the soles of your feet and the backs of your knees.
- Pay special attention to the areas exposed to the most sun.
- Don't forget to check your scalp and neck for moles. Use a handheld mirror or ask a family member to help you.
- Develop a mental note or keep a record of all the moles on your body and what they look like. If they do change in any way (color, shape, size, border, etc.), or if any new moles look suspicious, visit your dermatologist right away.
Skin cancer has a high cure rate if detected and treated early. The most common warning sign is a visible change on the skin, a new growth, or a change in an existing mole. Depending on the size and location of the mole, dermatologists may use different methods of mole removal. A body check performed by a dermatologist can help determine whether the moles appearing on the body are pre-cancerous or harmless.