Melanocytic nevi is the scientific name for the common mole. Most people have skin moles and know they are the small colored spots that can be found all over the body. Moles are comprised of skin cells, called melanocytes, which are the cells responsible for the pigment (color) in the skin.
Some moles may be dark in color, while other moles may be the same color as the skin. They can be raised or flat, rough or smooth, hairy or not. Most moles are circular, or oval, with a very defined smooth edge.
What Causes Moles To Develop?
Throughout our lifetime we shed old skin and new skin emerges. Sometimes the melanocytes will grow into clusters instead of spreading themselves over a larger area. These clusters of melanocytes form all types of moles.
Different Types Of Moles:
Congenital nevi: This type of mole is present at birth and occurs in one out of a hundred newborns. Congential moles should be watched closely as they are more likely to become cancerous.
Junctional melancytic nevi: These moles are seen in many different shades of brown – from light to dark. They are usually round and flat. People with darker skin tones may notice that they have black moles, this is normal.
Compound melanocytic nevi: These moles are often raised, light brown, and may have hairs growing out of them. These hairs may grow long and need to be removed.
Dermal melanocytic nevi: These moles are also raised, but are more skin colored, and often have stray hairs growing from them.
Rare Types Of Moles:
Dysplastic or atypical nevi: These moles may also be called Clark nevi. They are larger than normal moles and may not look like moles at all. They can be raised or flat, and can be one color, or several colors combined.
Blue nevi: These moles are obvious with their dark blue coloration.
Halo nevi: These moles appear to be in the center of a ring of skin that has lost a lot of pigmentation.
Because there are a variety of moles, and classifications within each group, only a dermatologist can correctly identify every type of mole.
Why Do We Get Moles, And, When Do They Develop?
As has already been said, one in a hundred newborns will be born with some type of mole. The rest of us will develop skin moles throughout the first thirty years of our life. Some will get moles in their first year, others may not see one for a decade.
People with fair skin usually develop more moles than those with darker skin tones. Children who have a lot of sunburns before they are 12 years old are prone to developing many different types of skin lesions, moles being the most common. People who live in sunny places seem to have more moles than those who live in rainy parts of the world.
Genetics also plays a large role in who will develop moles as they age. If your parents have moles, there is a greater than normal chance that you will get them someday.
People with a lot of moles, especially on their arms, need to be extra vigilant when it comes to watching their skin. For some unknown reason, those with more moles are more susceptible to their moles changing and becoming cancerous.
Are Moles Harmless?
Fortunately, most moles are harmless. Although some look bad, and may make you self-conscious about your looks, these skin lesions are basically benign.
However, some moles may become cancerous. Melanoma, or skin cancer, is treatable if caught in its earliest stages. A few things to watch for in moles that may have the potential to become cancerous are easily remembered if you just remember your ABCD&Es:
A stands for asymmetry – the two sides of the mole do not look the same.
B stands for border – normal moles have defined edges. Abnormal moles may have ragged, irregular, or blurred edges.
C stands for color – most moles are a solid color. Moles that change color, or have multiple colors like brown, black, tan, red, white, or blue should be examined by your doctor.
D stands for diameter – if the diameter is bigger than a pencil eraser then it should get checked out.
E stands for evolution – any mole that changes in color, shape, or size will need to be looked at more closely.
Signs and symptoms of skin cancer. ABCDE guideline – a simple and easy way to check skin for suspicious growths.
Everyone should check their skin frequently for changes in color, shape or size of any skin lesions. If a mole looks red and inflamed, or if it itches or has crusty dried blood on it, this is all cause to have your doctor check your moles. Fortunately, most moles do not become cancerous, but it is better to let your doctor know about any all changes in your moles.
Can Moles Be Removed?
Most moles are so harmless that they can be left alone and will never cause any problems. However, some moles may need to be removed due to being nuiscance moles, or malignancies. Sometimes it is for cosmetic reasons that a patient wants it removed.
Some moles can simply be shaved off by your doctor. Do not attempt to do this at home, it will hurt too much, bleed and may become infected. Nuisance moles fall into this category, as do those that patients want removed for their own cosmetic reasons. This procedure will leave a round scar that may be the same color as the mole.
Suspicious moles that may be cancerous are completely cut out. All the layers of the skin under and around the mole are carefully removed, and the wound is then stitched closed. The scar left behind will be much smaller than the actual mole.
Hairy moles can be shaved if the growth is unsightly. Plucking can be done, but may lead to a slightly inflammation in the mole itself. Electrolysis or laser treatments can also be used if the problem is extensive.
You might want to try an over the counter mole removal cream in the privacy of your own home. In a simple painless procedure it will dissolve your mole right to the root leaving no scars. It is completely safe and is covered with a 60 day money back guarantee – no questions asked!
An Ounce Of Prevention…
The best way to protect your sensitive skin from sun damage is to stay out of the sun from 11 am until 3 pm. If you must be outdoors during those hours, wear long clothes, sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat. Always use a sunscreen with a minimum SPF15; apply it often, especially after going swimming. Never, ever use sunbeds or sunlamps – the UV rays they emit will only cause damage to your skin. In the normal course of life you will develop a mole or two, why stress your skin and risk developing moles due to skin damage?
Check your skin frequently and report any changes in your skin, or moles, to your doctor as soon as possible. It's up to you to protect the largest organ in your body. Your skin deserves all the TLC it can get.