Moles appear in all races and skin color and generally during childhood and adolescence. They are a common type of skin growth caused by clusters of pigmented cells. Often times, moles appear to be as small, dark brown spots which change in appearance or fade away over time.
A person may have 10 to 40 moles. Though these moles rarely become cancerous, it’s important to monitor them for early detection of skin cancer, particularly malignant melanoma.
Moles Differ In Sizes, Shapes, And Colors
Usually, moles are like the size of a pencil eraser. They are less than ¼ inch in diameter. Moles present at birth rarely become much bigger.
Most moles are oval or round.
Color and Texture
Moles can be brown, pink, red, tan, black, or blue and may have hair growing from them. They can also be flat, raised, smooth, or wrinkled.
Some of the major factors in determining mole numbers are the genes we inherited from our parents and the amount of sun exposure, especially during childhood. Also, moles are common for people prone to freckles. Hormonal changes of adolescence and pregnancy may cause moles to become darker and larger.
Unusual Moles That May Indicate Cancer
There are main signs to look for in order to early detect abnormal moles and melanoma. The ABCDE golden rule will help determine whether a mole has evolved into a melanoma.
Most moles are usually symmetrical, meaning they are equally sized. If you find a mole that is one half is unlike the other half, then you may want to get it looked at by a skin cancer specialist.
To check if your moles look the same on both sides, simply place a mirror in the middle of the mole and use your best judgment.
Around the outside circumference, healthy moles have a defined border. Cancerous moles may have irregular, blurred, notched or scalloped borders. Plus, their color may run into the surrounding tissues.
A drastic change in color is the first sign of a potentially cancerous mole. Those with inconsistent colors, have many colors around the outside or have an uneven color should be brought to your doctor’s attention.
A usual mole doesn’t grow larger than ¼ inch in width. However, there are large moles that are known as congenital moles or birthmark.
Look for a mole that is slowly growing in size and is changing.
You should watch whether your moles have changed their sizes, colors, or height. It may have evolved if a part or all of the mole turns black, and developed new symptoms such as bleeding or itchiness. This might be dangerous and should be inspected by a medical professional.
In addition to the ABCDE golden rule listed above, you should also check if the mole is raised. if a mole that wasn’t raised before, becomes raised, then this could be a sign that it is cancerous.
Cancerous (malignant) moles differs greatly in appearance. Some of them may show all of the features listed above while others may have only one or two.