What are moles? If you can relate to this question, then you have landed on the right page. This article will explain what moles are and highlight some of the symptoms and signs of moles. We have as well listed several pictures of moles to give you an idea of what moles look like. In addition, can moles be removed? You will find our shortly.
What Are Moles?
Scientifically known as melanocytic naevi, moles are small growths on the skin that are formed as a result of collection of melanocytes, the cells that produce the pigment found in the skin. According to WebMD website, moles occur when the melanocytes in the skin grow in a cluster rather than in a distributed manner.
Moles are typically black or brown in color and can occur in any area of the skin either in groups or alone.
Most moles occur in early childhood and some may indeed be already present at birth, but most moles develop over the course of the first 30 years of someone’s life. Having between 10 and 40 moles by the time someone hits adulthood is normal. Fair skinned people are also more likely to have more moles than their darker-skinned counterparts.
Moles are hereditary and some people are thus more prone to develop moles than others. Prolonged and excessive exposure to sunlight can also increase the likelihood of developing moles.
Most moles are usually not a health concern as they are benign (non-cancerous) but you should be concerned if any of the moles looks different than the rest of them. You should also be concerned about moles that occur for the first time when you are aged over 30 years.
You should seek the attention of a dermatologist if a mole changes in color (more so if the moles develop uneven coloration), shape (changes from the typical even shape to a rugged one), and size (a mole should normally not exceed a pencil’s width).
You should also seek medical attention if a mole starts bleeding or becomes tender, itchy, reddened, inflamed, or painful. Such changes may be early signs of melanoma, a serious type of skin cancer.
You can use a mirror to examine your body and have someone help you out. The areas that frequently come into contact with the sun should your main focus areas especially the neck, hands, chest, arms, and ears.
You can’t completely prevent the transformation of moles into melanoma, but you significantly reduce the chances of developing melanoma by avoiding unnecessary and prolonged exposure to the sunlight. You should especially want to observe the following tips:
- Avoid exposure to the sun when it is hottest, often between 11am and 3 pm. It is advisable to sit in the shade during this peak hours whenever possible.
- Use a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses to protect your skin from direct sunlight
- Use a sunscreen when out in the sun. A sunscreen product with no less than SPF15 is recommended and should especially be applied after swimming
- Stay away from sunlamps and sun beds as they give off UV rays and you want to avoid exposure to them as much as possible.
Symptoms and Signs of Moles
You are now probably wondering, “What are some common symptoms and signs of moles?” Well you can tell that what you have is a mole by watching for the following symptoms or traits rather.
These traits can also help you differentiate between a mole and a melanoma.
- A single color: usually brown, sometimes darker, tan, blue, red, pink, colorless, or skin-colored
- Round shaped
- Smooth edges
- Flat or raised a bit
The symptoms and signs summarized a melanoma are summarized in the ABCDEs of melanoma.
What Do Moles Look like
So what do moles like? Well, moles are typically brown in color although some of them may be black or skin-colored. Moles can be raised or flat, and smooth or rough textured and are usually oval or circular shaped. Moles are usually smooth-edged and may grow hair over time.
Over the years, moles may change gradually to become raised or change color but some may not undergo any change whatsoever. Some moles may however go away by themselves without you ever realizing.
Exposure to the sun and hormonal changes can have an influence on the appearance and number of moles. Moles may in particular darken after exposure to the sun and during pregnancy. The number of moles may also increase during teenage.
All said and done, what do bad moles look like? They have more than 2 shades of colour (a common sign of melanoma), are bigger than the width of a pencil’s rubber, have uneven edges. Bleeding, oozing, itching, inflammation and a reddened look are also signs of bad moles.
Pictures of Moles
There is an old saying that a picture speaks a thousand words and who am I to disagree. To make it eve clearer what moles are, we have featured several pictures of moles below:
All the above pictures show normal moles but the pictures in the section below show abnormal moles, the kind of moles you should be concerned about:
The above picture shows a mole with an inflammation developing on it.
This picture shows an abnormal mole. See how uneven the borders are. A normal mole typically features smooth borders.
This is yet another picture of abnormal mole. Notice the diversity in shades of color: black, tan, and brown.
Can Moles Be Removed
While moles are often harmless, some people find them unsightly and this perception can weigh down on their self-confidence and self-esteem. Moles can also be annoying when they keep tugging on your clothes or getting bruised as you shave. The question then is, “can moles be removed?”
The answer is YES! Moles can be removed surgically but this is typically a bit expensive. There are many clinics that offer mole treatment.
Removal of moles for cosmetic reasons may entail “shaving” the mole off such that it is at par with your skin. This is referred to as shave excision and after shaving, the resulting wound may be closed using heat in a process referred to as cauterization.
There you go! It is our sincere hope that we have sufficiently addressed the question “what are moles?”
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- Raised Mole on Face, Back, Neck (with Pictures)
- Atypical Mole Syndrome, Pictures and Biopsy Results
- Hairy Mole – Why Are Moles Hairy Tailed?
- What Causes Moles to form on Skin & Face
- Different Types of Moles on Skin & Face (with Pictures)