Moles, also known as nevi (or nevus, in the singular form), are the most common type of skin growth people can get. While moles can be present at birth or occur at any age, they usually occur at about 20 years of age. These moles can appear anywhere on the skin, in a variety of shapes and sizes, and are made up of melanocytes, which are skin cells that produce a dark pigment called melanin.
As we grow and age, moles grow as well; they may start off as a flat, brown spot that looks like a freckle. But, over time, it will become larger, elevated, and even grow hairs. While moles can be benign, certain types do carry a risk of developing melanoma, a dangerous form of skin cancer. Sunburns, especially when they occur while you are young, and increase your risk of developing cancerous moles.
At Liberty Lake Dermatology, our providers encourage patients to do a self-check on their moles using what we call the “ABCDE” method:
- Asymmetry: Look at any moles or mole-like marks on your body, and see if both halves are similar in shape and size.
- Border: Check to see if the edges of the area are ragged, notched, or blurred.
- Color: You want to watch for uneven pigmentation, particularly if it is different shades of tan, brown, or black. You should also watch for dashes of red, white, or blue on the mole.
- Diameter: You want to watch closely for any moles or mole-like marking that are around six millimeters in size, or about the size of a pencil eraser.
- Evolving: You want to be aware of any moles or skin lesions growing and changing over time.
If you notice any of these warning signs or experience a sudden new growth of some sort, please do not wait to schedule an appointment with one of our highly trained team members. They will help determine what the growth is and if it is cancerous or not and can work to safely remove it if need be.