The good news is that most moles are totally harmless, or benign. The bad news is that moles can change over time. And these abnormal moles aren’t just a beauty blemish. They can be a sign of life-threatening cancer.
At Manhattan Dermatology, our team of dermatologists screens, diagnoses, and manages moles for patients at our two Midtown East offices in New York City. We deal with problematic moles and the associated cancer risks quickly and effectively, working to ensure the health of you and your skin.
Take a moment to learn more about moles and the signs of trouble.
What do normal moles look like?
Moles are areas of pigmented skin and usually look like dark brown ovals or spots, though the color can vary. These clusters of pigmented cells are common, with most adults having 10-40 moles on their skin.
Most moles are fairly small (less than a quarter of an inch across). While they can develop any time during your life, they usually appear in childhood or early adulthood. Moles come in all shapes and sizes and can be raised, flat, smooth, or wrinkled.
These spots can exist anywhere on your body, can change appearance, and can even fade. While most moles are harmless, they can indicate certain skin cancers.
When are moles dangerous?
Prominent moles may be aesthetically displeasing and raised moles might irritate you, but most moles aren’t dangerous. If you have a mole that appears quickly, transforms rapidly, bleeds, or is itchy, tender, or painful to the touch, it could be a sign of something more dangerous.
Knowing what your normal moles look like and where they are on your body is the first step in identifying any problematic changes, including new, fast-growing moles.
Abnormal moles are one of the hallmark signs of melanoma, a fast-growing form of skin cancer that can be deadly but is typically easy to treat when it’s spotted early.
Since melanoma often first appears as a fast-changing or unusual-looking mole, it’s helpful to know what to look for when evaluating your moles. Using the alphabet and the ABCDEs of atypical moles, keep an eye out for these troublesome signs:
- Asymmetry: one half doesn’t mirror the other
- Border: scalloped, uneven, or poorly defined borders
- Color: appears to have varying colors, shades, or hues
- Diameter: bigger than a pencil eraser
- Evolution: recent changes in color, size, or shape
Routine skin cancer screenings with us at Manhattan Dermatology is the best way to catch problematic moles as early as possible. We can assess worrisome moles and remove them as needed at any time, even if you’re being seen for something other than a skin cancer screening.
Don’t wait to contact us at Manhattan Dermatology if you have questions about your moles. Call our New York City offices in Murray Hill and Midtown East to schedule an appointment or book online now.