Moles (the medical term is Nevus or Nevi in plural) are a common type of skin growth. They appear as small, dark brown spots and are caused by clusters of pigmented cells.
Moles usually appear during childhood and adolescence. Most people have 10-40 moles, some of which may change in appearance or fade away over time.
Most of the moles are benign, which means harmless. Rarely they become cancerous. Monitoring moles and other pigmented patches is an important step in detecting skin cancer, especially malignant melanoma (a type of skin cancer).
Moles can come in different colours, shapes, and sizes.
Colour and texture
Moles can be brown, tan, black, red, blue, or pink. They can be smooth, wrinkled, flat, or raised. They may have hair growing from them.
Most moles are oval or round.
Moles are usually around 5 millimetres to the size of a pencil or eraser. Certain types of congenital nevi can be much bigger, covering wide areas of the face, torso or a limb.
Moles can develop anywhere on the body, including the scalp, armpits, under the nails, and between fingers and toes. Hormonal changes of adolescence and pregnancy may cause moles to become darker and larger.
UNUSUAL MOLES THAT MAY INDICATE MELANOMA (IMPORTANT TO KNOW)
Here is an ABCDE guide can help you determine if a mole or a spot is potentially melanoma or a symptom of skin cancers:
A – Asymmetrical shape
One half is unlike the other half.
B – Border
If the border is irregular, notched or scalloped, it is suspicious.
C – Colour
Look for growths that changed in colour, or are multi-coloured or have uneven colours.
D – Diameter
Check for new growth in a mole larger than ¼ inch.
E – Evolving
Watch out for moles that change in size, shape, colour, or height, especially if part or all of the mole turns black. Moles may also evolve to develop new signs and symptoms, such as itchiness or bleeding.
When to see a doctor?
If your mole has the signs and symptoms as above, or if it is causing you pain or discomfort.
In general, a doctor can identify moles just by looking at your skin. If the mole is suspected to be cancerous, he or she may take a tissue sample (biopsy) for microscopic examination.
Most moles do not require treatment.
If your mole is cancerous, our doctor will refer you to a skin specialist for appropriate treatment which may include getting it removed surgically.
However, if you are bothered by a mole cosmetically or socially, you may remove it by laser treatment.
Laser Mole Removal
It is a simple, non-invasive method of removing any mole. It can be done as an outpatient procedure. A doctor will numb the area around the mole and apply the laser to ablate the mole as clean as possible.
In general, it is a comfortable procedure under local anaesthetic.
Yes, and this depends on the nature of the moles. Certain moles require a few sessions for complete removal.
That is possible but it largely depends on the depth of the mole. For many, the scars are cosmetically better compared to the mole.