Causes Of Moles
Moles are growths that appear on the skin surface that are typically brown or pink in color. Moles can appear on any part of the skin, singly or in groups. Most moles appear in early childhood, as well as during the initial 20 years of your life. Certain moles may only appear later in life. It is normal to have between 10-40 moles by the time you reach adulthood. With the passage of years, moles will typically change slowly, and become lighter in color and raised. Hairs will often develop on the mole. While some moles will not change at all, others may slowly disappear with time.
Moles occur when cells in the skin grow in clusters instead of getting spread out through the skin. These cells are called melanocytes, and they make the pigment responsible for providing skin with its natural color. Moles might become darker following exposure to the sun, during the teenage years, as well as during pregnancy.
It is common for adults to have 10-40 moles on their bodies. Moles typically develop on the body in childhood although some may develop later in adulthood. Scientists don’t really understand what triggers the formation of moles, or what their purpose is. Although it is normal for moles to change shape or even disappear, moles that look different or crop up suddenly during adulthood should be examined by a doctor.
What Causes Moles?
Melanin, the naturally occurring pigment that provides the skin with color, produces melanocytes. These cells will sometimes cluster together for reasons that are unknown, thereby resulting in the formation of moles. Some scientists believe that moles occur as a result of skin damage by the sun. Moles have a tendency of becoming darker with more exposure to the sun, although they may also darken during pregnancy or puberty. Although common, moles are typically harmless.
Changes in Moles
While it is normal for moles to slightly change or disappear altogether in adulthood, it is important to consult your health care provider in the event that they change shape or brand new moles develop rapidly. If you notice any change in the size, form or color of your moles, or if you observe any bleeding, scaling, itching or pain, it is time to pay your dermatologist a visit. It is advisable to examine your moles on a regular basis. Use a mirror or ask a loved one to assist you in inspecting the moles located in parts that you are not able to easily see, such as the back of your thigh. Be sure to double-check the moles occurring in areas of the skin that are regularly exposed to the sun.
Moles & Cancer
In certain instances, moles may turn into cancer. There are several types of moles that carry a higher than average risk of becoming cancerous. Congenital nevi are moles that people are born with and which could increase the risk of suffering from a fatal type of skin cancer known as malignant melanoma. Malignant melanoma may also occur as a result of dysplastic, atypical, nevi moles that are irregular, hereditary and larger than a quarter inch. The more moles you have, the greater at risk you are for melanoma. Men are more likely to develop melanoma on their backs, while women tend to develop this condition on their lower legs.
In the event that your dermatologist determines that your mole looks dangerous, they will begin by taking a biopsy of the mole. This is a safe and easy procedure. Once it is determined that the mole is cancerous, the dermatologist will carefully remove it using a simple surgical procedure. The cancer is not likely to spread if it is caught early enough and removed.
Types of Moles
Congenital Nevi – These are moles that are present at birth and occur in approximately one in every 100 people. Congenital nevi are more likely to develop into melanoma than the moles that develop after birth. If the mole is more than 8 inches in diameter, its risks of becoming cancerous are higher.
Dysplastic Nevi –
These are moles that are larger than average (larger than a pencil eraser) and have an irregular shape. Dysplastic nevi tend to have an uneven color with lighter, uneven edges and dark brown centers. These moles are typically hereditary, with individuals who have more than 100 moles having a greater chance of developing cancerous (malignant) melanoma. If you notice any changes in the mole, you should have this examined by a dermatologist in order to check for skin cancer.
If your dermatologist believes that your mole requires further evaluation or removal entirely, they will perform a biopsy in order to examine thin sections of the tissue under microscope. This is a simple procedure that can be carried out at your doctor’s office. Thereafter, they will prescribe the right procedure for mole removal.