Most people think of a mole as being a dark brown spot, but moles have a much wider range of appearance. They can be raised from the skin and very noticeable, or they may contain dark hairs. Having hairs in a mole doesn’t make it more dangerous. Moles can appear anywhere on the skin, alone or grouped. They usually are brown in color and can be various sizes and shapes. Special cells that contain the pigment melanin cause the brown color.
Everyone has moles, sometimes 40 or more!
If you have developed new moles, or a close relative has a history of melanoma, you should examine your body once a month.
Most moles appear during the first 20 years of life, although some may not appear until later. Most moles are benign and do not require treatment or removal. However, there are certain types of moles that have a higher-than-average risk of turning into malignant melanoma. Moles present at birth, known as congenital moles may be more likely to develop into melanoma and should be monitored for changes. Dysplastic or atypical moles are usually larger than average and irregular in shape with uneven colors. People with these moles may have a greater chance of developing melanoma and should be seen by a Dermatologist on a regular basis for skin checks.
A – Asymmetry One half unlike the other half.
B – Border Irregular, scalloped or poorly circumscribed border.
C – Color Varied from one area to another; shades of tan and brown, black; sometimes white, red or blue.
D – Diameter While melanomas are usually greater than 6mm in diameter (the size of a pencil eraser) when diagnosed, they can be smaller.
E – Evolution (changing) If you notice a mole different from others, or which changes, itches, or bleeds (even if it is small) you should see a dermatologist.
It is important to recognize the warning signs of melanoma. Remember the ABCDEs: Asymmetry, Borders, Color, Diameter, and Evolving (changing). If a mole displays any of these signs, it should be checked promptly by a Dermatologist.
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