Most moles that you have on your body are totally harmless, or benign. But when they start to change shape, size, or color over time, these may be signs of life-threatening skin cancer.
Abnormal moles can be worrisome, but simply reaching out to a dermatologist can help put your mind at ease. And regular skin checks help lower the risk of any skin cancer that does develop.
Our team of experienced dermatologists at Manhattan Dermatology understands the fear and stress when you discover atypical moles. That’s why we provide services to screen, diagnose, and manage moles for our patients at our offices in Murray Hill and Midtown East in New York City.
Keep reading to learn more about moles, what’s normal, what isn’t, and signs to look out for.
Moles are spots of pigmented skin on your body, usually dark brown ovals or spots, though the color may vary. These pigmented clusters of cells are very common; most adults have 10-40 moles. Shapes and sizes of moles vary, and they might be flat, wrinkled, smooth, or raised.
Generally, moles are very small, less than one-quarter of an inch in diameter. Moles may develop at any time in your life, but they usually appear in childhood or early adulthood.
Moles can appear anywhere on your body, and their appearance can change as you age, or even fade. Most moles are harmless, but it’s good practice to keep an eye on changing moles, as they could be a sign of skin cancer.
Though prominent or protruding moles may affect your appearance and you may be irritated by raised moles, most moles aren’t dangerous. Recognizing the moles on your body is the first step to being aware of changes, especially new, fast-growing moles.
If you have a mole that developed suddenly, is changing quickly, or is painful to touch, bleeds, is tender, or is itchy, it might be a sign of something dangerous. Schedule an exam with us to have the mole checked.
Moles that are abnormal are one of the first signs of melanoma. Melanoma is a fast-growing form of skin cancer that can be deadly. But fortunately, it’s typically easy to treat when spotted early on.
Knowing what to look for when analyzing your moles can help you keep an eye out for melanoma. Use the ABCDEs of atypical moles to look out for these signs:
- Asymmetry — One half isn’t like the other
- Border — Uneven, scalloped, or poorly defined
- Color — Appears to have multiple colors, shades, or hues
- Diameter — Greater than the size of a pencil eraser
- Evolution — Recent changes in shape, size, or color
Scheduling routine skin cancer screenings with us at Manhattan Dermatology is the No. 1 way to spot dangerous moles as soon as possible. We can evaluate your moles and remove them if needed at any time, even if you’ve come in for a different service.
If you have any questions about your moles, don’t wait to set up a consultation with one of our providers. Give us a call or schedule an appointment online with either our Murray Hill or Midtown East office in Manhattan, New York City.