Owning one’s unique characteristics is one very special way to stand out in the crowd. After all, isn’t super model Cindy Crawford as famous for her beauty mark as she is for her fabulous photo shoots? Unfortunately, not all of us are destined to be on the cover of Vogue. Likewise, not all moles are to be celebrated. If you’ve noticed a mole where there hadn’t been one before or if that mole is behaving oddly by changing color or shape, you may be overdue for a visit to the dermatologist, the medical experts at diagnosing and treating moles. Here’s what you need to know about moles – their diagnosis and treatment.
What is a Mole?
Moles are commonly found skin growths that are comprised of clusters of pigmented cells; these pigments are what gives the mole its brownish color. Most people have a few moles here and there; quite often when they are found in more conspicuous places, such as the face, they are called beauty marks. Moles tend to appear during childhood or adolescence, while other appear much later in life, as we age or are affected more by our environment. Some moles may fade away while others may change over time. It is these moles that change that present the greatest health concern, and are of the most interest to your dermatologist.
ABCs of Mole Detection
At least once a year, you should visit your dermatologist for a full-body assessment of your skin and its condition. It’s best to do this as soon as possible, that way your dermatologist can establish a baseline by which to measure the status of any questionable moles, and also note any new additions. For the most part, your moles will not cause any concern, however, there are distinct characteristics your dermatologist – and you – should be looking for. And it’s as easy as A-B-C-D-E.
- Asymmetry – One half of the mole should mirror the other. Moles with two different halves are considered asymmetrical and could be cause for concern.
- Border – The borders of your mole should be smooth; a mole that has jagged or blurry borders may be considered suspicious.
- Color – Your mole should be one color. Multicolored moles may indicate malignancy.
- Diameter – Most moles measure about the size of a pencil eraser (about 6 mm). Moles larger than that are considered suspicious and should be checked out.
- Evolution – Remember that baseline your dermatologist performed at your first evaluation? Your dermatologist will be able to use that baseline to evolution of symmetry, border, color or diameter.
Diagnostics and Treatment
An astute parent or partner will often be the first to note a mole and the changes that may come with it over time. If the mole is determined to be questionable, your dermatologist will order a biopsy. If the biopsy comes back negative (benign), your dermatologist may still remove it, together with other questionable moles. If the mole comes back positive (malignant), your dermatologist will recommend further tests and develop a treatment plan to reduce or eliminate the risk of the cancer spreading.
Your Mole – and Skin – Specialists in South Florida
Your skin is at risk every time you head out into the Florida sun. Good skin care should begin early in life and habits should be established that last a lifetime. If you are looking for a partner to care for a lifetime’s worth of skin, look no further than the Children’s Skin Center, where Dr. Ana Duarte and her associates have created a kid-friendly, family-centered dermatology practice that offers the latest medications and state-of-the-art technology in a comforting family atmosphere. Whether it is to check out a birth mark or a suspicious mole, look no further than Children’s Skin Center. Call us today (305) 669-6555 or, request an appointment online to begin your baseline assessment.