Complete Exam Of Moles & Skin Tags
Moles, also called nevi, are common growths on the skin that are usually black or brown. Moles can appear anywhere on the skin and they may be flat or elevated. Most moles appear in childhood and during the first 20 years of life. The majority of moles appear by the age of 40, though new ones may appear much later. It is normal to have between 10-40 moles by adulthood.
As the years pass, some moles may change slowly, becoming raised and/or changing color. Hairs may develop in a mole. This is not an indicator of a dangerous mole. Some moles may not change at all, while others may slowly disappear over time. As the mole disappears, a white ring may appear around it as the melanocytes go away. This is known as Halo Nevus. This is not a dangerous phenomenon.
Most moles are not dangerous, particularly those that have a regular shape, even color and well-defined borders. A raised or irregular surface is not an indicator of a dangerous mole. However, as all moles are made up of melanocytes, all moles have a potential to form a Melanoma, a dangerous skin cancer made of abnormal melanocytes. The higher risk moles have irregularities of shape and pigment (see the ABCDEs of melanoma).
Types of Moles
- Intradermal nevi
Intradermal nevi are the most common type of moles. They often appear as regular outlined, smooth, rounded growths. They may be light or dark in color. They are very low risk for cancer.
- Congenital nevi
Congenital nevi are moles that appear at birth. They occur in about 1 in100 people. They may have a higher risk of becoming a melanoma than moles which develop later.
- Dysplastic nevi
Dysplastic nevi, or atypical moles, may occur randomly, or be an inherited trait. They are not uncommon. They tend to be flat, have irregular color, with darker brown centers and hazy borders. The majority of these moles have an approximately 1% risk of developing into melanoma. People who have more than a dozen dysplastic nevi may have a higher risk to develop a melanoma. Approximately 80% of these melanomas will occur as a new mole, not in a pre-existing dysplastic nevus. The presence of multiple dysplastic nevi is a flag that an individual who is at higher risk to develop a melanoma. People who have multiple dysplastic nevi and an immediate family member (parent or sibling) who has had a melanoma, have an approximately 50% chance of developing a melanoma.
- Seborrheic keratoses
Seborrheic keratoses are not moles, but are frequently mistaken for them. They are harmless growths, which may start flat, like a freckle, then become raised. Their surface may be rough, though frequently it is velvety, waxy, or wart-like. Their color varies from light tan to black. Their size can vary from a few millimeters to a few centimeters. They begin to appear sometime after the mid-teens. Their onset may seem sudden, almost overnight. Virtually everyone will get at least a few if they live long enough. They may be a family trait in up to 30% of people. While not dangerous, they can become irritated and itchy.
- Skin tags
Skin tags are benign growths of skin and may be mistaken for moles. Most commonly, they arise in the armpits, the groin, on the eyelids, the sides of the neck, and under the breasts. They are usually flesh-colored, and only a few millimeters in diameter. They may elongate to several millimeters.
I’m 21 years old and I had a suspicious mole and Dr. Brian Mekelburg took a biopsy and it was a Melanoma. I’m so thankful that he caught it early. I trust Dr. Brian Mekelburg and I’m very Thankful! He’s very kind and always takes his time with me. Love his staff too. I recommend him and give him 5 stars.
Please note that results may vary from patient to patient.
Examining Moles and Skin Tags
It is a primary job for the dermatologist to perform a comprehensive skin exam, to look for suspicious moles. Those with a family history of skin cancer, especially melanoma, should take note. A yearly skin exam is recommended for everyone, regardless of skin type or race. Regardless of why you visit us, we offer such an exam to all our patients.
Contact Dr. Brian Mekelburg for a complete exam of your moles and skin tags.