Moles are a common type of skin blemish which are caused when a certain type of skin cell clumps together. These skin cells are called melanocytes, and they produce melanin, the naturally occurring substance that is responsible for the color of your skin.
Most moles are harmless, but there are abnormal changes that can happen to moles. These abnormal moles could be an early sign of skin cancer and should be checked out by your dermatologist. The dermatologists at North County Dermatology Center in Encinitas, California Dr. David Thomas, Dr. Margaret Hobson Dupree, or Dr. William Burrows offer a full range of skincare services, including examining your moles.
You should do regular self-checks of your moles and look for any abnormalities. Abnormal moles often show these characteristics:
- A diameter greater than 6 millimeters
- Irregular, poorly-defined borders
- An asymmetrical shape
- A change in color, size, height, or shape
You should visit your dermatologist if you notice any of the signs listed above. There are also some symptoms you may experience that should be checked out. See your dermatologist right away if you have a mole that is:
- Causing pain
- Burning or itching
- Bleeding or oozing
- Growing back after previous removal
If you have an abnormal mole, your doctor may suggest having all or a portion of it removed for biopsy. During a biopsy, layers of tissue are examined to look for abnormal cellular-level changes which could signal precancer or cancer. There are several different ways your doctor can remove an abnormal mole, including:
Shaving the mole; the area is numbed and then small areas are shaved away underneath and around the mole. Shaving is great for small moles and doesn’t require suturing.
Excising the mole; after the area has been numbed, the mole is removed with a punching instrument. Excision is used for larger moles and requires a small amount of suturing.
Checking your moles is an important way to diagnose early skin cancer. Early diagnosis leads to early treatment and a better outcome for you. To find out more about moles and other skincare topics, call the dermatologists at North County Dermatology Center in Encinitas, California today!