Though most of us are familiar with moles — we have them, or someone we are close to has them — few people really know what they are. Also known as nevi, moles are pigmented skin spots composed of melanocytes, or melanin-producing cells, that congregate in groups within the epidermis and dermis layers of the skin. They can appear anywhere on the skin or mucous membranes, including nail beds, are typically 3–5 millimeters in diameter, and can be light or dark in color. Some moles are flat while others are raised.
The presence of moles should not necessarily arouse worry; most nevi have minimal risk of becoming cancerous. However, it is a good idea to keep an eye on your moles, making note of changes in shape, texture and color.
What Causes Moles?
Normally melanin is distributed evenly through the skin, but sometimes melanocytes cluster together. It is this concentration of melanin that appears as a mole. Scientists, however, don’t actually know what causes melanocytes to cluster.
Some people are born with moles, while other never develop them. There is a higher prevalence of nevi in people with light skin compared to those with dark skin. Sun exposure also seems to affect the development of moles and may contribute to the development of atypical moles. Individuals with moles often have relatives with moles as well.
What Can Be Done About Moles? (Mole Removal Issaquah)
Most moles do not cause pain, and are generally inconspicuous. However, if you have a suspicious-looking mole, a dermatologist may recommend that a biopsy be taken. Your dermatologic surgeon will follow-up with you on the results of the biopsy and your treatment plan.
Moles can be removed by surgical excision followed by stitches, or cauterization. Small moles can be removed with a small blade in a procedure called shave excision. Laser removal is not a method of choice for deep moles because laser light cannot penetrate deeply enough.
It is highly recommended that individuals with moles self-examine their moles, watching for warning signs of early melanoma. To this end, the ABCDE rules can be useful, especially when used in combination:
- Border irregularity
- Color variegation
Please contact our dermatology office in Issaquah if you have questions or concerns about moles, or if you have a suspicious-looking mole that you would like Dr. Michalak to examine. He is board certified by the American Board of Dermatology and is a fellow of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery. Please dial 425-391-2500 extension 7 for Carolyn, our cosmetic patient coordinator.