By the time you reach the age of 30, you will have probably 10-40 moles on your skin. These black or brown skin growths begin to appear differently after a period of time, either become raised or adapt a different color. They may also begin to grow hair. You may have moles that don’t change in any way; some may even just fade away.
When to Worry About a Mole
While most moles are nothing serious, there is always a chance that this skin growth could turn into a form of skin cancer. Chances are it will remain the same, but just make sure you keep checking the status of your skin so that you can have it checked out if it shows any of the following signs:
- The sudden appearance or growth of a mole. Most moles grow slowly so when one pops up out of the blue or an existing mole begins to change its appearance, it should be checked out.
- Any change in the look or shape of a mole. Don’t disregard a mole that has changed colors, especially if it seems to be taking on a darker shade than it originally had. Moles that begin to itch, bleed or hurt should also be brought to a physician’s attention. If it develops a crust around it, it could be the beginning of melanoma.
- The size and symmetry of the mole. Keep an eye on any moles that seem to be growing or no longer look symmetrical - both sides of the mole should look the same.
- A mole with a rough or irregular edge to it. If you notice that your mole has begun to take on an irregular or rough edge around it, make sure you bring it to the attention of your doctor right away.
Most moles are regular and will remain that way, while atypical moles have a tendency to become cancerous.If you find a larger mole that is around 5-12 millimeters and it has a variety of colors to it, this would be considered an atypical mole. They could appear to be tan colored, pink, black or dark brown. The surrounding area is usually very irregular and not smooth and distinct. These types of moles seem to be more prevalent on people who spend a good deal of time in the sun but they are not limited to sun worshippers.
If your mole does happen to exhibit any of these signs, prompt treatment is of the utmost importance. If it is determined that your mole has the beginning stages of cancer, it is easier to take care of if treated right away. The treatment is removal while under a local anesthesia. The longer that you wait to see a doctor, the more challenging it will be to rectify.
How to Tell If Your Mole Is Dangerous
If you are trying to decide when to worry about a mole, it may be hard for you to decipher. Determining if your mole is potentially cancerous can be made a little simpler with the “ABCD” rule.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) suggests using the first four letters of the alphabet to remind you of what to look for in a dangerous mole.
- A means it would be asymmetrical. If both sides of the mole do not look alike this is one of the things to watch for.
- B has to do with the way that the border appears. It should be smooth and even rather than jagged and irregular.
- C stands for color. Make note of any inconsistencies in the shades; regular moles are usually brown, black or tan. White, pink, black, or blue are not common colors for a typical mole.
- D is for the diameter of the mole. Typical moles are around a quarter of an inch around. Think about the size of an eraser at the end of a pencil – if it is larger than that, keep an eye on it. Many, but not all, large size moles can turn cancerous.
For a clearer view of when to worry about a mole, you may watch the video below:
How to Remove a Skin Mole
If you find that your mole has any of the signs that make it possibly dangerous, make an appointment with your physician. Removing the mole is a simple process that consists of numbing the area then cutting it or shaving it off. It’s possible that you may need a stitch or two to close up the area. Your physician will then send a sample of the tissue from the mole to the lab to determine if it was cancerous.