Two of the most common skin conditions are the presence of moles and dermatitis. Moles can have more serious consequences than the irritation of dermatitis.
Moles occur when the cells in the skin that give it its pigment, called melanocytes, grow in clusters. These cells normally grow throughout the skin, but when too many grow in the same place a mole occurs. Most moles appear before the age of 25, but some may appear much later. Moles can remain static or change over time. Although most are not dangerous, some can be malignant and lead to melanoma. Any mole that oozes or becomes painful or sensitive should be checked out by a dermatologist. Moles that suddenly appear after the age of 25 or begin to change or grow should also be evaluated.
When evaluating your moles, keep the following in mind. Moles should be round. If your moles are asymmetrical, or irregular in shape, have it evaluated. If you find a mole that is larger than ¼”, mention it to your doctor or dermatologist. If you find that your mole has an irregular or jagged edge, or is not all one color, have your doctor look at it. Finally, any mole that is red or blue may be cause for concern.
Treating moles is not difficult. If a mole is embarrassing, or becomes irritated under your clothing, you may ask your doctor to remove it. Moles can be frozen with a chemical, after which they dry up and fall off. Other moles can be simply cut off of the skin. Often, doctors will remove entire moles that seem suspicious and test the tissue for cancer. If any malignancy is found, they may cut out a slightly larger area of skin and then suture the site closed.
Check your skin regularly for changes in your moles. If any seem suspicious, or any changes have occurred, let your doctor know. Preventing a problem is as easy as going on “mole patrol.”