Moles & Mole Checks
What are moles?
Moles, or nevi, are a grouping of pigmented cells that are usually harmless and are very common on the skin. These lesions can be congenital, which means present at birth, or acquired, which are developed throughout your lifetime. Moles can be seen on most body parts, and can more commonly appear on sun exposed areas. They are typically asymptomatic; they do not usually itch, burn, bleed or hurt. If you have a lesion that is becoming symptomatic, it is important to always have it examined by your dermatologist because moles have the potential to go through a range of changes. A changing or abnormal mole is called a dysplastic nevus. There are different stages of these moles and in some cases they can change into a skin cancer called melanoma. There is no way to know which lesion will go through changes, so mole checks, or skin exams, should be done on a routine basis by yourself as well as your dermatologist and take note of any new or changing lesions.
Use the ABCDE guide for skin to help identify suspicious looking lesions.
A– Asymmetry- suspicious if you can’t put a mirror in the middle and it looks the same on both sides
B-Border- look for irregular or jagged borders
C– Color- if the lesion is very dark itself or if there is color variation within one lesion
D– Diameter- larger than the end of a pencil eraser
E– Evolution- changing lesion
If a mole is considered suspicious, a biopsy will be performed to indicate if further treatment is needed. Many patients see the dermatologist yearly for skin exams, but if you or your family has a history of abnormal moles or skin cancer, t’s recommended that you go every 6 months. If you notice a lesion changing or something new that looks suspicious to you, it is ok to schedule an appointment between visits to have it evaluated.