Most people have a few moles that have grown with them since childhood. A mole can appear anywhere on the body and mole patterns are usually determined by genetics, sun exposure, or a combination of the two. Many of us have wondered at some point if our moles are harmless or if they may need to be examined. Nancy Shina, Dermatology Nurse Practitioner, shares some insight about when a mole may be concerning.
Types of Moles
Moles can be classified into a few different types:
- A congenital mole is when a mole is present at birth, such as Cindy Crawford’s iconic mole above her lip.
- An acquired mole develops during childhood and adolescence usually due to excessive sun exposure. Examples include the freckles some people develop on their shoulders.
- An atypical or abnormal mole is usually irregularly shaped, has uneven color, and is possibly larger than other moles.
Moles are concerning when a change is noted. It is important to consult a dermatology provider for a suspicious mole since this may be an early sign of melanoma which is a life-threatening form of skin cancer.
A great way to remember to recognize a concerning mole is the A, B, C, D, E’s of moles.
A for Asymmetry: A mole in which one half doesn’t match the other half
B for Border: A mole with a poorly defined border
C for Color: A mole that has multiple shades of color
D for Diameter: A mole that has a diameter larger than a pencil eraser
E for Evolution: A mole that is changing its size, shape, or color
Skin Cancer Screenings and Mole Removal
Preventative skin checks are performed by a medical professional. During this visit, your provider will look for any new moles as well as changes or bothersome symptoms in moles that you already have. This is especially important if you have a family history of atypical moles or melanoma, or have a history of multiple sun burns or tanning salon visits.
If a mole needs to be removed for biopsy or cosmetic concerns, this can usually be performed in the same visit.
Nancy Shina practices at our Professional Center North in Ogden. To schedule a mole exam or for a different dermatology concern, call us at (801) 475-3000.