Moles, also called nevi, are small skin growths that develop from pigment-producing cells in the skin. Moles are very common, particularly on individuals with lighter skin. Skin moles are usually easily recognized by their typical appearance. Nevi often differ in size, shape or color on the same individual and may also be flat or raised. The most common colors of moles range from tan to brown, but moles can be pink, black, blue or even flesh-colored. Some moles change color slowly over time, possibly even disappearing. Changing moles should always be examined by a qualified dermatologist like Dr. Robert Miller MD of Long Beach, California.
Though skin moles are not a form of skin cancer, they can sometimes develop into malignant melanoma, a cancerous growth of melanocytes. While only 4% of diagnosed skin cancer is melanoma, melanoma’s ability to spread throughout the body makes it the deadliest type of skin cancer.
Malignant melanoma can appear anywhere on the body—though it is generally found in areas that are often exposed to the sun, such as: the face, neck, ears, chest and stomach. Malignant melanoma usually develops in a pre-existing mole that begins to change, or a new mole.
Change in moles such as mole growth, mole color change, and surface texture may all be symptoms of melanoma. Consult a dermatologist for evaluation if you begin to notice your mole changing. Dr. Robert Miller is located in Long Beach, CA and provides evaluation and treatments of moles and other pigmented growths. Click here to schedule a consultation at Dr. Miller’s Long Beach, CA dermatology office.
Roughly 20-40% of skin melanomas arise from an atypical mole, a mole that is generally larger than average and irregular in shape. This type of mole tends to be multicolored with mixtures of tan, brown, red and pink. Atypical moles are often genetic, but may develop on anybody. While those with even a few atypical moles have an increased risk of developing melanoma, the risk escalates significantly if the person has close family members with melanoma.
Sunlight accelerates the development and changes in atypical moles. Even moderate sun exposure during childhood may be harmful and increase the risk of developing melanoma decades later. People prone to atypical moles should always use a sunscreen with a high SPF rating to help protect against cancer-producing Ultra-Violet (UV) rays. Click here to view Dr. Miller’s Skin Cancer Prevention Tips.
Congenital Moles are moles that one is born with, or moles that develop shortly after birth. About 1 in every 100 people is born with at least one mole. These moles vary in size, color, shape, texture and hairiness. The size of a congenital mole ranges from small to large, sometimes—though rarely--covering nearly the entire body. Moles that are larger than 20mm generally have an increased risk of melanoma. Moles that appear after birth until the age of about 40 are called acquired moles. The prevalence of acquired moles is generally higher in people with light skin compared to people with dark skin. Most often, acquired nevi have a very clear appearance and their borders are evident. Acquired moles are generally are not a cause for concern, as they have a minimal risk of becoming cancerous and tend to regress with age.
Because melanoma generally begins on the surface of the skin (derma), it often can be detected at an early stage. Performing regular self-exams can help you recognize the early warning signs of melanoma. It is important to self-monitor your body for changes in moles at least once a month, checking every part of your skin for irregularities. It is also recommended to have skin moles examined by a dermatologist at least once annually.
Southern California dermatologist Dr. Robert Miller recommends performing regular skin self-exams, examining the entire body for the ABCDEs of melanoma detection:
If a mole changes or seems bothersome, displays one or more of the ABCDEs, or is new and looks unusual, promptly make an appointment with a dermatologist.
To make an appointment for a screening, contact Dr. Robert Miller today at 1-562-420-8333.
Noncancerous moles generally do not require treatment; however, moles that are uncomfortable or a cosmetic concern can be removed by a medical professional. The most common methods of mole removal are shave excision and excision surgery.
Shave excision involves numbing the area around a mole and using a small blade to cut around and beneath the mole. This technique is often used for smaller moles and does not require stitches.
Excision surgery occurs when the doctor cuts out the mole and surrounding margin of healthy skin with a scalpel or sharp punch device, then sutures the skin to close.
Click here to contact Dr. Robert Miller’s office if you have any questions or concerns about the growth of a mole. Our Southern California dermatology practice proudly serves Long Beach, CA and surrounding communities like Los Angeles, Long Beach, Orange County, Riverside and San Diego.