Moles: Meaning, Causes, Treatment and More (Updated)
Did you know that your skin type and colour can affect the amount of moles on your body?
Quite interesting right?
It is so because of the fact that people with lighter skin tone have more chances of melanin deposition in their skin as compared to the people with darker coloured skin.
Moreover, the moles are produced by the same cells that result in the formation of melanomas.
Let us take a brief look and find out what is a mole? And what are its causes, types and treatment.
What is a mole?
It is a small, dark pigmented growth on your skin which is also sometimes referred as spot. However, medically the term used for it is Melanocytic Nevus.
These result from the accumulation of skin cells rich in melanin pigment. as it also termed as a common mole.
How do moles look like and what are some of the interesting facts related to it?
Let’s discuss them briefly in this section.
Moles are a type of skin growth that is the most common as compared to other growths on skin.
It can be described as a skin imperfection or many call it a beauty mark.
The mole skin may vary in colours ranging from tan, dark brown, reddish brown, red, purple, black, skin-coloured and it appearance it may be completely flat or slightly raised.
Most moles are smaller in size, approximately 1/2 inch just like the eraser of the pencil.
Common Mole may appear anywhere on your body including scalp, eyelids, ears, lips, soles, genitals and anal areas.
Interesting Facts About Moles
- The exposure to sun may result in increase in the number of moles on skin during childhood
- Some the moles can get more darker and more visible with excessive exposure to the sun and during pregnancy
- Mostly the moles appear by the age of 30 years
- Moles can be misinterpreted for other skin growths
- The irregular moles or which vary in size over time can be a risk factor for skin cancer
- Regular moles can be a safe place to hide for skin cancer
Do All Human Have Moles?
Yes, all human beings have moles, they are predetermined before the time of birth.
Each mole has a life of about 50 years and its has its own patterns for growth.
Every human being has about 10 to 40 moles normally on their body.
Mole is most common on the parts of body that are more exposed to the sunlight.
However, they may rarely appear on the scalp, chest area and buttocks.
At What Age Should You Stop Getting Moles?
Most people stop getting more moles on their body after the age of 30 years.
However, other skin growths like freckles, skin tags and lentigines are more common in adulthood.
Therefore, if you develop a new mole after age of 30, then you should get a close medical examination and a possible biopsy for it.
Causes of Mole and its Symptoms
Do you ever think why some people have more moles than others?
Moles basically are the cluster of cells with high amounts of melanin pigment.
It is a pigment that exists in your skin naturally hence giving the appropriate skin tone.
Mostly the moles are harmless but in some cases they can get cancerous.
So, in order to know if the nature of a mole, we need to look at its causes and symptoms.
Causes of Mole
The basic two causes for moles are,
- Sun exposure
These are basically accumulated melanocyte cells in your skin. The number of these cells in your skin are determined by the genes you inherit from the parents and it is also dependent on the extent of sun exposure.
The skin parts that having more chances for sun exposure have higher chances of developing them than the lesser exposed parts.
Symptoms of A Mole
Typical symptoms of existing mole include the existence of small spots. This may also include,
- Colour and texture. They may be red, tan, brown, black or red in colour. They may also range from flat smooth to rough and raised.
- Shape. Mostly they are oval or round but if asymmetrical consult your doctor.
- Size. They should normally be smaller than 6cm in diameter but the congenital moles can be much bigger.
Mole on Face
There are more chances for the growth of a mole on your face as face is among those parts of the body that is usually most exposed to the sunlight.
UV rays from sunlight increase the chances of moles formation, hence result in more moles on face.
Cancerous Moles or Melanomas
Complications of moles include Melanomas on top.
The signs of melanoma are that they are asymmetrical, they might have an uneven or blurred border, it might vary in colors from black to brown or tan, the size of this mole is larger than 6 millimeters or is of a pencil eraser, and it is evolving.
The risk for a mole to become cancerous is higher in some individuals as compared to others.
Some of the risk factors that increase the chance of cancerous moles include the following,
- Large mole at the time of birth. The medical term used for such a mole is congenital nevi. They are characterised as large moles if their size ranges more than 2 inches (5 cm) in young borns. However, the bigger in size of mole does not necessarily make it cancerous and it almost does not ever happen until you reach puberty phase.
- Atypical size and shape. A mole that do not has any particular shape or size fall under the category of atypical nevi. These usually have genetic origins and mostly have lighter and rough ends with dark brown centre.
- Higher number of mole. Having more than 50 normal moles are risk indicator of melanoma. Recent researches have supported the direct relationship of the number of moles on your skin with the risk of developing cancer.
- Family history of melanoma. You are at greater risk for melanoma if you have had it before. Moreover, genetic type of melanoma can also result from some types of mole with irregular shapes and size.
They may look like this in appearance,
Types of Moles
In order to identify the nature of a mole, knowing its types is very important.
The types are categorised on the basis of its colour, size and occurrence.
Let’s just dive right into its types so we can discuss the treatment later.
Mainly moles are divided into three types,
1. Congenital Mole
These appear at the time of birth and may range widely in colour and size.
According to American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, every 1 out of 100 babies have moles at the time of birth.
Congenital moles mostly do not become cancerous.
2. Acquired Mole
These are the type that appear later in your life.
Mostly the have brown colour in appearance and result due to the exposure to sunlight.
They are round in shape and mostly stay same as you age without any significant changes.
However, they may change colour as you age like they get darker but do not turn cancerous.
3. Atypical Mole
The atypical types of moles are at higher risk for becoming melanomas as compared to the other two types.
They are slightly larger and irregular as compared to congenital and acquired moles and they may range in colours as well.
Difference Between Moles and Freckles
How do we identify the difference between mole and freckles?
There are actually some indicators that provide the difference between two.
Freckles and moles are not the same and here’s how you can identify them differently.
Moles are however skin lesions but they are darker in colour and are not always a result of sun exposure.
Although they are more common in people with lighter skin tone, just like freckles.
These are present at the time of birth or right after it and they result from accumulated skin cells with higher blood supply through capillaries.
Moles vary largely in their colour, shape and size.
They often appear raised from the surface of skin while freckles tend to be flat.
When to See a Doctor?
Should you worry about having them?
Moles are not necessarily always cancerous. However you should prefer consulting a doctor when the following symptoms appear,
- Asymmetry. If these are not equal on observing from its centre then it is asymmetrical in shape.
- Border. Deeply observe the ends of your mole and if they are rough or textured then there are chances that it is a cancerous mole.
- Colour. If you see variations within the same mole then take it as a warning sign as it can be melanoma.
- Size. A mole bigger than 1/4 inch or the size of a pencil eraser can be dangerous.
If you are concerned about your mole and looking for a dermatologist for its analysis, you can book an appointment here for Skin analysis.
What are some of the options which we can opt for removing a mole?
You can opt for mole removal for multiple reasons which might include problems due the size and location of your mole.
Let us have a quick look at treatment options for moles and its prevention strategies.
The other reason for removing them can be due to the risk for melanoma.
Whatever the reason may be, you should never try removing mole at home without medical supervision.
There are two ways to remove them,
1. Shave Excision
This method involves numbing the part of skin around your mole. A small blade is used to surgically remove your mole by cutting around and below the mole.
This is most commonly used in case of a smaller mole.
Usually no stitches are required for this kind of procedure.
2. Excisional Surgery
Also referred to as excision biopsy involves the removal of extra healthy skin along with the mole.
Therefore, this procedure requires the use of stitches for the skin to heal properly.
Mole Removal and Scars
It focuses on new collagen formation and restructuring the old by expelling old pigmented skin cells.
It involves the following,
- Avoid direct exposure to sunlight during peak hours and wear sun protection accessories.
- Use sunblock through the year even during winters
- Cover your skin when going out may reduce the chances of sunlight exposure
- Avoid tanning lamps which emit UV rays that increase the risk for developing skin cancer.
However, some people like moles and in some parts of the world, they are considered beauty marks. However, some people get bothered due to its size or location.
Therefore, cosmetic procedures are frequently requested, to improve the aesthetics.
Now you know everything related to moles and you can click here to check our services related to skin. Your feedback and suggestions are appreciated.
Let me know in the comments section below that which part proved to be the most helpful for you.