Many moles are benign. They may look different from the rest of our skin, regardless of our skin tone, because they are a cluster of skin cells all bunched together.
They are often darker than our skin even if our skin is brown, as they are darker brown or black in color and are a different texture or often raised from the rest of our skin. The official medical term for a mole is: melanocytic naevus which simply means a collection of pigment skin cells, or melanocytes.
While most moles are benign, there are some real warning signs for moles which are beginning to be cancerous.
* changes in shape, including a ragged edge to the mole, or an enlargement of the mole
*changes in color, including a difference in color between one area and another within the mole
* itchiness, redness
You should be aware that if you have a large mole, larger than a pencil eraser or a congenital one that is larger than 8 inches in diameter, you are at a higher risk for malignant melanoma.
Also, having greater than 25 moles puts you in a higher risk category so you should always be aware of the state of your moles and monitor them carefully, or have your doctor monitor them very carefully when you go in for physical exams.
Congenital moles are moles which are with you from birth and one out of every hundred or so people has these. Dysplastic nevi are irregular moles which are more likely to be cancerous either early in life or later on.
If you suspect changes in your moles, it is very important to be examined by a dermatologist. The dermatologist will do a biopsy (take a piece) of your mole to determine if there is malignant melanoma present and, if so, will then remove the mole itself.
Taking every precaution against skin cancer means reducing the risk of developing malignant melanoma or cancerous moles. This includes limiting your exposure to the sun, wearing protective clothing and sunscreen, and checking often and regularly for any changes in your moles, including size, shape and the feeling (itchiness, pain, etc).
Moles. Netdoctor. Retrieved from the internet on September 29, 2011
What You Need To Know About Moles and Dysplastic Nevi. National Cancer Institute. Retrieved from the internet on September 29, 2011
Aimee Boyle is a regular contributor to EmowHER
Reviewed October 3, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith