Your skin is constantly changing, which is totally normal. However, a change in the colour, size or shape of a mole is often a sign that something may be wrong. Even if the problem is not necessarily skin cancer, a mole that changes shape or colour can be a symptom of a more or less serious problem.
You may have lived with suspicious-looking moles for quite some time and assumed that they are completely harmless. However, the reality is that skin cancers, such as melanoma, do not always announce their presence; but there are some early signs that are definitely cause for concern. For example, if a mole becomes paler or darker than normal, or if new and different colours appear in addition to the original colour, you should definitely have it checked.
The best thing to do in this regard is to familiarise yourself with moles, be aware if they change colour or shape, and if you notice anything different about any of them, see a specialist. In this article, we will also show you how to tell if a mole is dangerous or not.
What are moles and why do they occur?
Moles are growths on the skin that are usually brown or black in colour. Moles can appear anywhere on the skin, singly or in groups. Most moles appear in early childhood and during the first 25 years of a person’s life. It is normal to have between 10 and 40 moles in adulthood.
As the years go by, moles often change slowly, becoming raised and/or changing colour. Sometimes even hairs develop on the mole. Some moles may not change at all, while others may slowly disappear over time.
Moles occur when skin cells grow in clusters instead of being spread all over the skin. These cells are called melanocytes and produce the pigment that gives the skin its natural colour. These spots can darken after exposure to the sun, during adolescence and during pregnancy, and this need not be a problem.
Dangerous and benign types of moles
En la piel pueden formarse varios tipos de lunares, tanto benignos como malignos. These include common moles, dysplastic nevi and melanomas.
They are also known as common moles. When melanocytes, or pigment cells in the skin, grow in groups, they form what is called a common mole. They have a pink, tan or brown appearance and a fairly uniform appearance at the edges with a smooth surface.
Common moles are usually benign, and adults usually have between 10 and 40 common moles on their skin. Sometimes babies are born with common moles, but most form with age, up to about 40 years of age, in areas frequently exposed to the sun.
Moles are very common on the body. Although some people consider them beauty spots, some of these phenomena can be unsightly. There are several treatments such as lasers that help to remove moles from the face and other areas of the body, painlessly and with minimal scarring.
However, it is important to examine moles before treating them. If you are interested in learning more about the treatment, contact Clinica Rigo for help and advice on everything there is to know about moles and how to remove them.
There are two types of moles that could be considered dangerous: dysplastic nevi and melanomas. We will look at each of them below.
Also known as atypical moles, dysplastic nevi are usually larger than a common mole. They are usually flat and vary in colours including pink and dark brown. They also have the following characteristics:
- They usually measure more than 5mm.
- They have a smooth, somewhat scaly or pebbly surface.
- They have an irregular rim, which fades into the surrounding skin.
Most dysplastic nevi are found on sun-exposed areas of the body, but they can also appear on areas such as the breasts, scalp and below the waist.
In most cases, dysplastic nevi do not develop into melanoma skin cancer. However, the risk of skin cancer increases with a higher number of dysplastic nevi.
If you have one or more of these dangerous moles, be sure to have them checked by a doctor, especially if you have a family history of melanoma skin cancers. Also, see a doctor if you notice that the dysplastic nevus mole does the following:
- Changes colors.
- It hardens or feels lumpy.
- It changes in height, shape or texture.
- It itches.
- Oozes or bleeds.
- Increases or decreases in size.
- It feels flaky or dry on the surface of the skin.
A type of skin cancer that starts in melanocytes, melanoma can arise from a common mole or dysplastic nevus, or it can develop in an area of skin that appears normal.
The appearance of a melanoma can vary, but a common sign is a change in the size of an existing or new mole that has features such as uneven borders and shades.
Melanomas occur more frequently in fair-skinned people. In people with darker skin, melanoma tends to form on the palms of the hands, under the nails, on the soles of the feet or under the toenails. In women, melanoma usually appears on the lower legs or back, while in men, melanoma usually appears on the back, neck or head.
How to learn to identify dangerous moles
It is important to know the difference between benign and cancerous moles. If you are unsure how to do this, the ABCDE rule can help you recognise the signs and symptoms of a dangerous mole. ABCDE is an acronym for the following signs and symptoms of skin cancer:
- Asymmetry. A spot or mole on the skin with an unusual shape or two parts that do not look the same.
- Border. A cut or ragged edge.
- Color. Uneven colour.
- Diameter. A mole or spot that is larger than a pea.
- Evolution. A mole or spot that has changed in the last few weeks or months.
In any case, if you want to be sure whether or not a mole is dangerous or if you want to remove these unsightly spots from your skin, book your consultation at the Clinica Rigo and get down to work.