What You'll Learn
- 1 What are Moles
- 1.1 Where can they occur
- 1.2 Science of Moles
- 1.3 Types of Moles
- 1.4 Products from Amazon.com
- 1.5 How to Know if Your Mole is Safe
- 1.6 ABCDEs of Moles
- 1.7 Mole Removal Procedures
- 1.8 Mole Removal Aftercare
- 1.9 Best Mole Removal Products
What are Moles
Besides being a small burrowing mammal and a unit of chemical weight, the term mole (in reference to skin) is used to describe a variety of skin imperfections. Many prefer the term beauty mark. The medical term for mole is melanocytic nevus. Moles may be tan, brown, black, reddish brown, red, purple, or skin-colored and perfectly flat or raised. Most moles are smaller than a pencil eraser (about 1/2 inch).
Where can they occur
Certain moles become darker and more apparent with sun exposure and pregnancy. Moles can occur anywhere on the skin, including the scalp, ears, eyelids, lips, palms, soles, genitals, and anal area.
Science of Moles
A melanocytic nevus (plural nevi) is composed of masses of melanocytes, the pigment-producing cells of the skin. However, there are a variety of other skin lesions that are also mole-like. These include seborrheic keratoses, skin tags, dermatofibromas, lentigines, and freckles.
Types of Moles
A mole or nevus is a dark, raised spot on our skin comprised of skin cells that have grown in a group rather than individually. These cells are called melanocytes and are responsible for producing melanin, the pigment (color) in our skin.
Moles can form from sun exposure, but we are also born with them, inheriting them genetically. Although number of moles varies from person to person, fair skinned people generally have more moles due to lower amounts of melanin in their skin, and the average adult has between 10 and 40 moles. Moles can even come and go with hormonal changes such as pregnancy or puberty.
Most people develop more moles on their skin naturally with age and sun exposure, and — most of the time — these moles are harmless. However, we need to conduct skin checks regularly (recommended monthly, especially if you have a relative with skin cancer, or at least every three months) to see if our moles have changed.
Not all moles are created equal. Here’s a quick guide to mole types and what they mean for our skin. It’s good to note that moles are categorized by multiple factors, including when they developed, where they are located in the skin and if they exhibit typical or atypical symptoms. That means moles are often described by multiple classifications.
A common mole is one that is usually about 5-6 mm in diameter, has distinct edges, a smooth, dome-like surface and even pigmentation. These moles are usually found on skin regularly exposed to the sun and have the potential to turn into skin cancer, but it is a rare occurrence.
Atypical moles, or dysplastic nevi, are moles that exhibit irregular symptoms. They usually have fuzzy or blurry borders, are varied in color, larger than most moles and have both flat and raised components. While dysplastic nevi share a lot of the same signs of pre-cancerous or cancerous moles, most dysplastic nevi are benign. However, a person with many dysplastic nevi is at an increased risk for skin cancer. The more dysplastic nevi a person has, the higher the risk. Regular self-examinations are important to detect changes in these types of moles.
How to Know if Your Mole is Safe
Moles that are considered “safe”, or not at risk for cancer, generally have a few common features.
They usually resemble common moles and have:
- Neat edges,
- Smooth or dome-like shape,
- Are around ¼ inch (6 mm) in diameter,
- And stay the same shape, size or color over time.
It’s important to take a quick inventory of the moles on your body so that you can recognize any changes that may occur over time. Understanding what’s normal for your body is key for catching early skin cancer symptoms and prevention. Look for these indicators that your mole may be cancerous:
- A change in size (getting larger)
- A change in shape (especially with irregular edges)
- A change in color (especially getting darker or exhibiting multiple shades)
- A loss of symmetry (common moles will be perfectly round or oval and are usually symmetrical)
- Itchiness, pain or bleeding (maybe even forming a scab)
- Exhibiting three different shades of brown or black
- A change in elevation (thickening or raising of a flat mole)
If you notice any of these symptoms, contact a doctor to have your mole examined.
ABCDEs of Moles
It can be difficult to remember all of the things to look out for during a skin check. That’s why doctors advise using the ABCDE method to make things simpler.
Check your skin for these signs during self-examinations:
- Asymmetrical – the mole is distinctly asymmetrical
- Border – the mole has uneven borders
- Colors – the mole contains at least two distinct colors
- Diameter – the mole is bigger than ¼ inch or 6 mm across
- Enlargement – the mole grows in size over time
Mole Removal Procedures
Although mole removal is crucial for patients who have developed melanoma, many patients choose to have their skin moles removed as a precautionary measure, or because they dislike the mole’s appearance. For patients with cancerous moles, surgery is the only effective method of removal. For those who want their moles removed for cosmetic reasons, surgical, laser, and natural mole removal are usually good options.
Mole Removal Surgery
There are three methods used for surgical mole removal: shave excision, punch biopsy, and excisional surgery.
Shave excision is used for moles that are raised above the skin. In the shave procedure, your doctor will apply a local anesthetic to the area surrounding the mole and use a small, sharp scalpel to shave down the surface of the mole so that it is flush with the surrounding skin.
The punch biopsy technique, usually used for smaller skin moles, involves using a special device to “punch out” a cylinder-shaped piece of skin.
Skin moles that are flat or malignant are usually removed with excisional surgery, wherein the surgeon cuts the mole out entirely and closes the wound with stitches.
Laser Mole Removal
Laser mole removal is best for moles that are flat and brown or black in color. Full removal of the mole usually requires one to three trips to a physician or dermatologist’s office, where he or she will apply a local anesthetic and use a laser to remove the mole tissue. Generally, laser mole removal is not appropriate for very large moles or moles that protrude above the skin.
Mole Removal at Home
There are a variety of natural mole removal creams and pastes on the market, most of which contain bloodroot, a woodland herb that grows in the northern United States and Canada. Bloodroot has been used for generations in the field of alternative medicine as a method of natural mole removal, and is now available for at-home use. The process can vary depending on which product you purchase. For bloodroot paste, the process is as follows:
Apply the paste to the mole and cover with a bandage. Repeat for three days, each time washing the affected area with hydrogen peroxide before application.
The area at the base of the mole will become inflamed, and the mole will turn pale and fall off.
Generally, you will experience minimal scarring and no tissue damage.
Because little is known about the effects of bloodroot or other natural mole removal solutions on malignant tissue, it should not be used to treat moles that are potentially cancerous. If you suspect that your mole may be cancerous, consult your dermatologist about a biopsy and surgical removal.
Mole Removal Aftercare
After the procedure, you need to keep a layer of petrolatum (Vaseline) and a bandage on the wound. Once or twice daily with either water or diluted hydrogen peroxide. After cleaning the wound, apply the petrolatum and bandage. These steps are repeated until the wound is healed.
Misconceptions about Healing
Some people think that wounds need to be open to the air and that this helps healing. Several studies have disproved this and found significantly quicker healing with bandages and antibiotic salve. Similarly, vitamin E has been found to slow healing rather than accelerate it, and scars may be worse with vitamin E placed directly on wounds than without it.
Best Mole Removal Products
- SkinPro Skin Tag and Mole Remover
- Compound W Wart Treatment System
- HealingNaturalOils Wart Removal Formula
- Pristine Herbal Touch Wart Mole Remover Product
What are your thoughts on Moles and mole removal procedures? Have you ever faced problems because of moles?
Let us know down in the comments below!