Moles are a typical form of skin growth. They sometimes appear as tiny, dark brownish spots and are generated by pigmented cell clusters.
Throughout childhood and adolescence, moles usually appear. Most individuals have 10 to 40 moles, some of which may vary in appearance through time or disappear forever. The majority of moles are harmless. They seldom get cancerous.
An essential step in detecting skin cancer – especially malignant melanoma – is to check moles and other pigmented patches. Read on to learn about what a healthy mole looks like.
Instead of being spread across the skin, moles appear when cells in the skin develop in a cluster. These cells are called melanocytes, and the pigment that gives the skin its natural color is produced by them.
After sun exposure, during the teen years, and during pregnancy, moles can darken. Protecting yourself from the sun is the best way to avoid moles, particularly those which can be cancerous.
To get some vitamin D, you can just go outside and bask in the sun. Too much sun exposure, however, can be hazardous.
Types of Moles
Congenital nevi are moles present at birth. In about one in 100 individuals, congenital nevi happen. These moles are significantly more likely to turn into melanoma (cancer) than moles that surface after birth.
If it has a diameter more than a pencil eraser or any of the characteristics of melanoma, then a mole or freckle should be checked. This guide can help you identify if melanoma or other skin cancers can be indicated by a mole or a spot.
- “A” is for asymmetrical shape; one half is unlike the other half
- “B” is for border; look for moles with irregular, notched, or scalloped borders
- “C” is for color; look for growths that have changed color, have many colors, or have uneven color
- “D” is for diameter; in a mole bigger than 1/4 inch (approximately 6 millimeters), look for new growth
- “E” is for evolving; observe moles that vary in size, shape, color, or height, particularly if a mole becomes black in part or all
Symptoms of Cancerous Moles
In appearance, cancerous (malignant) moles differ significantly. All the features mentioned above can be seen in others. Some may only have one or two.
Moles that are usually larger than normal (larger than a pencil eraser) and irregularly shaped are dysplastic nevi. With dark brown cores and lighter, inconsistent edges, they appear to have an uneven color. They are somewhat more likely to become melanoma.
A nevus is a melanocytic benign (non-cancerous) tumor, more generally termed a “mole”. Nevi (the plural of nevus) are generally not apparent at birth, but in children and adolescents, they start to occur.
Most moles would never cause any trouble, but the risk of developing melanoma – the most aggressive type of skin cancer – is higher for an individual who has more than 50 normal moles (or more than 5 atypical or dysplastic moles).
A healthy mole is generally precisely round. There are no multiple shades of brown, black, or tan, as is commonly seen in melanoma — the color is the same throughout the mole.
They have a smooth border and, in comparison to a melanoma tumor, are distinctly separated from the surrounding skin.
The Bottom Line
Make sure to consider this information in this article if you have concerns about a mole. Even for dermatologists with years of experience, telling moles and melanoma apart is not simple. So, if you have any concerns, be sure to contact your doctor.