When Should You Visit the Dermatologist to Get a Mole Examined
Clumps of melanocytes, also known as moles, are common. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, a majority of people have between 10 to 40 moles. Many moles are not a cause for concern, but some aren’t always just cosmetic; sometimes, moles are cancerous. You should understand the signs that may mean a mole requires an examination by a dermatologist.
You Have an Asymmetrical Mole
Typically, a mole is round and rather symmetrical. Look out for a mole that’s asymmetrical, meaning one half doesn’t match the other half in terms of size, shape, or color.
You Have a Mole With a Peculiar Border
When you examine a mole, you should evaluate the border of it. A typical mole’s border has an obvious, well-defined border. Schedule an appointment with a dermatologist if you have a mole with a border that has any of the following characteristics:
- Fuzzy border
- Poorly defined border
- Ragged border
- Blurred border
- Notched border
- Protruding border
You Have a Multicolored Mole
Moles that aren’t a cause for concern are usually one color. Typically, they’re brown, pink, or tan. If you have a mole that isn’t one solid color, visit a dermatologist for a screening. For example, a mole that has more than one shade of brown may indicate that the mole is cancerous.
You Have an Oddly Colored Mole
When you examine your moles, look for moles that aren’t the typical pink, brown, or tan. For instance, a mole isn’t usually black, white, gray, red, or blue. These colors may show up in a cancerous mole.
You Have a Mole With a Large Diameter
According to the American Cancer Society, Inc., moles are usually smaller than a quarter-inch in diameter, which is similar in size to a pencil eraser. If you have a mole larger than a quarter-inch, you should have the mole evaluated by a professional. Keep in mind that sometimes moles from melanoma are smaller than this, so you’ll want to evaluate smaller moles for other factors that signify cancer.
You Have a Mole That’s Changing
Once you have a mole, it doesn’t tend to change. It remains the same color, shape, and size over time. As you’re monitoring your moles, check to see if they change in color, shape, or size. Changes can be a signal that a mole has become cancerous.
You Have a Mole That’s Oozing
A mole is a formation of cells together. Unless you cut open a mole and infection sets in, you shouldn’t have any symptoms of an infection at the site of the mole. If you notice a mole is oozing and you don’t have an injury or rash in that area, schedule an appointment with a dermatologist for an evaluation.
You Have a Mole That’s Itchy or Painful
A standard mole doesn’t usually cause any issues except for being bothersome to your appearance. If a mole becomes itchy or painful and you have no injury or rash in that area, get an examination.
You should also carefully examine the mole to identify any swelling or redness around it because those are uncommon issues with a harmless mole. Sometimes, the itching, tenderness, and pain will disappear but return in the future in certain types of skin cancer.
You Have a Mole That Bleeds, Has a Lump, or Is Scaly
Part of the mole self-examination process should include looking for issues with the surface of your moles. Cancerous moles may bleed, develop lumps or bumps, or have a scaly texture.
Moles are usually nothing to worry about; most people have them and never experience a problem. However, approximately one in five Americans will develop skin cancer throughout their lifetime, so you should understand the signs.
Contact East Carolina Dermatology and Skin Surgery, PLLC, serving New Bern, NC, and the nearby region, if you have a mole you would like a dermatologist to examine.