A mole is an area of skin with extra pigment. Moles are often associated with skin cancer and as a result of excessive sun exposure. However, many people are born with moles and over time new ones begin to form. Most moles are not dangerous. That being said, moles can be cancerous, and they can easily go unnoticed. All of us, especially those living in South Florida, should be vigilant in checking our bodies for new or changing moles. Paying attention to your moles will save your life.
What are moles made of?
A mole is a collection of melanocytes or pigment-producing cells. These spots can be small, large, smooth or raised, and even bumpy or hairy. Most moles are oval with neat edges and a brownish color. However, some moles can be skin-colored, have a white ring, and can even be dark blue. Moles are more prevalent in people with fair to light skin and can also run in families. Puberty, pregnancy, and any other hormonal changes can result in new moles. Unlike freckles, moles can last for years or forever. Freckles can come and go depending on sun exposure.
How do I know if a mole is cancerous?
There are a few things you can look out for when looking at your moles. A non-cancerous mole is usually made up of one or two colors. Cancerous moles can be multicolored – light brown, dark brown, black, red, pink, or blue. Uneven edges, very large, inflamed, or crusty moles are also an indication that something may be wrong. Moles that bleed easily or are itchy are also signs of melanoma. If you notice any of these changes in one of your moles, it’s crucial you see a doctor immediately.
What is melanoma?
Melanoma is the most aggressive form of skin cancer. If not taken care of in the beginning stages, melanoma can spread to other organs in the body and can be life-threatening. Non-melanoma skin cancer is more common but does not spread nearly as fast or as often as melanoma. Non-melanoma skin cancer displays itself as a hard red lump or flat dry patch that doesn’t heal.
If you suspect you have a cancerous mole, visit a Board-Certified Dermatologist. If your doctor examines the mole, and any others, and thinks it might be harmful, he will take a biopsy. The mole will be removed and tested for cancerous cells.
How can I prevent melanoma?
Ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays increase the risk of getting melanoma. However, you don’t have to have a sunburn for the effects of ultraviolet rays to be harmful to your skin. The more time you spend in the sun, the higher your risk is. According to the American Cancer Society, melanoma is more than 20 times more common in white people than in African Americans. Follow proper steps for staying safe in the sun and of course, wear sunscreen every single day.
The most important aspect of melanoma is early detection, so pay attention to your moles. It can and will save your life. Take care of the skin you live in and visit Elias Dermatology for a yearly skin assessment or any of your other skin needs. Call today. 1-954-771-0582