Most people refer to dark irregular patches of skin as moles. Moles are not to be confused with birthmarks or freckles, which are both characteristically different. They can be individually located or found in groups and clusters. Some people have hundreds of moles and others have few if any. Moles can be found on most any part of the body.
What causes moles?
Moles occur when melanocytes are concentrated or clustered in our skin. Melanocytes produce melanin which is the pigment that gives color to our skin. Moles can be present at birth, grow over time, or develop due to genetic reasons. Sun exposure also seems to have an effect on mole development. Little is known about what actually causes a mole to form.
At Fall Creek Skin and Health Clinic in Rexburg we can put your worries to ease. If you are worried about a mole or other suspicious lesion, our care providers can perform a skin biopsy. The most common reason for a biopsy is to determine if a skin lesion or mole is cancerous. However a biopsy can also be useful in determining if a skin inflammation is a bacterial or a fungal infection. A biopsy is performed by taking a small sample of skin tissue and performing a microscopic examination.
Moles can be evaluated using the following method. Dermatologic care providers typically remove moles if one or more of the ABC’s are present, if the patient finds the mole unattractive or they become worrisome.
ABC’s of Atypical Moles
- A is for Asymmetry. If a mole is asymmetric, then it lacks symmetry or balance. This can be determined by imagining the mole was to be cut in half. The sides would not be proportional to each other. Normal moles are symmetrical.
- B is for Border. A regular mole is usually rounded in shape. Borders that are blurred, jagged, notched, or otherwise irregular often indicate a possible problem.
- C is for Color. Moles should be uniform in color. Variations in color, darker spots, inconsistent shading from one side to the other, or patches may need to be evaluated.
- D is for Diameter. As a general rule of thumb, moles should not be larger than 6mm. That is roughly the size of a pencil eraser. They should not be increasing in size.
- E is for evolving. Any time a mole begins to bleed, itch, or becomes otherwise inflamed; it can be a cause of concern. Change can be an indicator of developing melanomas.
If your moles have exhibited any signs of the ABC’s, it’s probably a good time to visit Fall Creek Skin and Health Clinic in Rexburg.
Mole Removal Procedure
- Skin around the area is sterilized and cleansed.
- An anesthetic is applied to numb the area.
Depending on the mole or lesion a few different procedures can be used or variations of which to most effectively eliminate the mole.
- Cauterization: With the area now numbed, the mole is carefully burned away. Cauterization does not usually require stitches.
- Excision: A scalpel or a medical blade is used to cut the mole carefully out. Stitches may or may not be needed to pull the skin back together depending on the severity of the mole.
- Excision followed by Cauterization: Cutting followed by cauterization.
- Shaving Method: Most commonly used for protruding moles. The mole is lifted and removed with a scalpel, leaving the area flush with the surrounding skin. Next the area is cauterized to stop bleeding.
Topical antibiotics are then used and the area is bandaged and covered.