Worried About a Mole? When to See a Dermatologist

 Worried About a Mole? When to See a Dermatologist

Moles are a common skin growth that can appear anywhere on the body. While most of your moles are harmless, it’s important to keep an eye on them and see your dermatologist about any concerns. This guide will help you spot irregularities in your moles, which could be a sign of skin cancer.

What Do Healthy Moles Look Like?

Most of your moles likely appeared when you were a child or teenager. Moles can change in appearance over time and may even disappear entirely. In rare cases, moles can become cancerous. The first step in spotting an unhealthy mole is to know what a healthy one looks like.

Generally, moles are round and brown. However, they may also be red, black, skin-colored, pink, or blue. Moles can have a raised texture or be completely flat. They can also be ovular in shape. Moles are usually about the size of a pencil eraser, which is about a quarter of an inch. It’s normal to see hair growing out of a mole.

When Should You See a Dermatologist?

An atypical mole doesn’t necessarily mean that you have skin cancer. However, there are some abnormalities that could indicate melanoma. This is why it’s essential to carefully check your moles at home and see your dermatologist regularly for exams.

The acronym ABCDE can help you look for melanoma warning signs:

  • A for Asymmetry: Healthy moles have two symmetrical halves, while melanomas are generally asymmetrical.
  • B for Border: An unhealthy mole may not have clear borders. The edges are often irregular, showing a notched or scalloped shape.
  • C for Color: Rather than having one uniform color, a melanoma might have various colors within the same area.
  • D for Diameter: While healthy moles are about the size of a pencil eraser, melanoma can exceed a quarter of an inch in size.
  • E for Evolving: Look out for any change in shape, size, elevation, and color. New symptoms like bleeding or itching should also be of concern.

If you notice any of the above signs in a mole, be sure to see your dermatologist. The doctor may recommend mole removal if they are concerned about the symptoms.

What Can You Expect From Mole Removal?

There are a few common methods that surgical dermatology specialists use for mole removal. The first is surgical excisions, in which the doctor surgically cuts out the mole and stitches up the skin. Surgical shaves are another removal method. This is when the doctor removes the mole with a blade. They may check the tissue for cancer cells with a microscope following both of these procedures.

If the dermatologist does detect skin cancer, they will then speak with you about potential treatments. Mohs micrographic surgery is one of the most effective methods available for removing basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas. This method is minimally invasive, removing cancerous cells without damaging healthy tissue. However, your dermatologist will determine the best treatment method for your type of cancer.

If you’re concerned about one or more skin growths, visit the team at Pacific Dermatology Specialists. Our professionals offer skin examinations and treatments including Mohs Micrographic Surgery and surgical excisions. With locations in Carson, Long Beach, Torrance, and Seal Beach, CA, you can make an appointment at one of our conveniently-located offices.

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