In the Midwest, we’re familiar with moles tunneling about under our lawns, leaving those telltale raised paths.
You may be less familiar with the moles on your skin.
Human skin tends to grow various skin lesions: moles, freckles, skin tags, benign lentigines, and seborrheic keratoses. While the vast majority of moles are harmless (unlike the lawn variety!), if they’re getting in the way of life, Dr. Musick can remove them. He can also tell if they need to be paid attention to.
Moles and You
Moles can grow anywhere on the skin and are usually brown or black. Most moles develop in early adulthood over the first 30 years of a person’s life. If you have a few you’re not alone — the average person has between 10 and 40 moles!
Over time, those moles change. Some will develop hairs. Others will become more raised or change color. Others will disappear.
The cells responsible for skin color, melanocytes, are also responsible for moles. Moles occur when melanocyte cells grow in clusters rather than being spread throughout the skin. Due to their pigment relationship, some moles darken with sun exposure, during the hormonal teenage years, and during pregnancy.
Moles and Cancer
The vast majority of moles are harmless. Occasionally a mole changes color, height, size, or shape. That’s when you need to get it checked by Dr. Musick. Cancerous growths also usually form after age 30, while moles usually form well before then.
It is rare for a mole to turn into melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. However, people with more than 50 miles are more likely to develop melanoma.
These are warning signs with moles:
- Its size changes unevenly
- A mole changes color
- It changes height, shape, or texture
- Skin becomes rough and scaly
- Mole feels hard or lumpy
- It itches, oozes, or bleeds.