Moles: Do you know the 6 Types?
Skin Cancer Care Specialists | January 2, 2020
What are moles?
Most people know moles as those little spots on the skin, or “beauty marks.” These natural discolorations are a normal part of a person’s skin. In fact, more people have them than not. Scientifically speaking, this has to do with the density of the cells responsible for pigment. When these color-defining cells, or melanocytes, grow closer together as opposed to more evenly spread, you will experience the appearance of small areas of darkened colors. Some people have more than others depending on their genes or lifestyle. Moles may even vary in appearance throughout a person’s lifetime.
Are moles a sign of cancer?
Everyone has moles and most are harmless. Sometimes a mole can develop into skin cancer. So, it’s important to monitor them with regular skin exams with your dermatologist and know what to look for in terms of warning signs. While some moles can be at higher risk than others, the presence of moles is not cause for alarm. While you can only be sure of your diagnosis upon a medical examination, there are some signs which indicate that you should seek a dermatologist’s advice. At Skin Cancer Care Specialists, we want to make sure you familiarize yourself with the different types of moles so you can determine the next steps you should take.
What are the six types of moles?
Whether or not a mole is benign, it can be categorized as one or more of the following:
Dysplastic nevi are moles with irregular features. They are often asymmetrical. Although many people develop theses in their lifetime, those who have many atypical moles or a family history of melanoma are more at risk of being diagnosed with melanoma at one point in their lives.
As the name suggests, congenital moles are present at birth. About 1% of the population has a congenital mole. Although they are mostly harmless, those who have an especially large one may opt to remove it. A large congenial mole is a little more likely to turn into melanoma later in life than other moles
- Spitz Nevus
Spitz Nevi closely resemble textbook melanoma lesions. They are raised, pink, and sometimes can bleed or ooze. It is wise to seek medical guidance as it is difficult to tell if this is cancer with self-examination alone. Even if they aren’t cancerous, they can put you at risk for developing infections.
Acquired moles appear after birth. These are incredibly common especially among populations who have fair skin or spend time in the sun. Sun exposure can lead to the formation of additional moles, brown spots, and freckles. It is normal for someone to have 10 to 40 of these anywhere on their bodies. However, if a person has over 50 acquired moles, they should talk with a doctor as this increases their risk of developing melanoma.
One of the biggest indications of a malignant growth is a rapid change in size. It can be typical for moles to darken due to hormones or sun exposure, but if they appear to be growing, contact a doctor for advice.
- Under the nail
Moles under the nail are rare but are the main symptom of subungual melanoma. This very rare cancer is the only one involving the nails and does not have a clear connection of sun exposure. Visit a doctor immediately if the mole is in the form of a “streak” down the nail.
If you have any questions or concerns, there is no harm in seeking advice from a licensed medical physician such as Dr. Weisberg at Skin Cancer Care Specialists in Jupiter FL. Dr. Weisberg is a fellowship trained Mohs surgeon who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of a broad range of skin conditions including all types of skin cancers. Early diagnosis is the key to effectively treating melanoma.
To schedule your appointment with Dr. Weisberg please contact our office at 561-775-6011.