Your body has skin cells called melanocytes and these cells produce melanin, which determines the color of your skin. Melanocytes can grow in clumps, producing a mole. Nearly everyone can have between 10 and 40 moles and they can be many different colors or textures, but they are usually less than 6 millimeters in diameter.
Moles can be an early sign of skin cancers like melanoma, and melanoma can be fatal. This is why you should do a self-exam periodically. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are signs to look for, including:
- An asymmetrical shape
- An irregular border
- A change in color
- A diameter larger than 6 millimeters
- A change in shape, color, size or height
You should see your dermatologist if you have a mole that is:
- Showing any of the signs listed above
- Burning or itching
- Bleeding or oozing
- Growing back after a previous removal
- New and you are over 30 years old
Your dermatologist may recommend:
- A surgical shave of your mole-- your dermatologist will numb the area and cut around the mole and underneath it. Shaving is often used for smaller moles and no suturing is required.
- A surgical excision of your mole-- your dermatologist will numb the area and cut out the mole with a punching instrument. Surgical excision requires sutures.
If you think your mole might be the beginning of something worse, like skin cancer, you need to make an appointment with us.