A mole, also known as a nevus, is a dark spot or growth on the skin that can be raised or flat. Moles can vary in color from pink, tan, brown, black, and round or oval in shape. They can appear on any part of the body but mostly occur on the face, arms, and legs. Moles are usually benign (not cancerous) and do not cause any symptoms. However, some moles may appear atypical or abnormal, and Dr. William Long New York can evaluate these to rule out skin cancer.
It is important to monitor moles for any changes in size, shape, color, itching, or bleeding. These changes can signify skin cancer, specifically melanoma, a serious and potentially life-threatening form of skin cancer.
When to see a dermatologist
You should consult a dermatologist if you notice any changes in a mole or if you have a new mole with any of the following characteristics.
Asymmetry refers to a mole that is uneven or irregular in shape. If one half of the mole does not match the other half, it may indicate a problem. This is one of the signs of a mole that a dermatologist should evaluate. Not all moles that have asymmetry are cancerous, but it is vital to have them evaluated by a professional to be sure.
Ensure to check your skin regularly and look for any new moles or changes in existing moles. If you have a history of skin cancer or a family history of melanoma, it is especially important to be vigilant about monitoring your skin and seeing a dermatologist regularly.
The border of a mole refers to the edge or perimeter of the mole. A normal mole has a well-defined border, which is smooth and even. However, an abnormal mole may have an irregular, scalloped, or poorly defined border. This can be a sign of a problem and should be evaluated by a dermatologist.
A normal mole has a uniform color, usually tan, brown, or black. However, an abnormal mole may have multiple colors or shades, such as white, red, or blue. This can be a sign of a problem and should be evaluated by a dermatologist. A professional should evaluate a mole with a uniform color but other signs of melanoma such as asymmetry, irregular border, or large diameter.
The diameter of a mole refers to the size of the mole. A normal mole is usually smaller than the size of a pencil eraser (about 6mm or less). However, an abnormal mole may be larger than this size. This can be a sign of a problem and should be evaluated by a dermatologist. A mole larger than 6mm in diameter may indicate a serious form of skin cancer.
Evolution refers to changes in a mole over time. If a mole is evolving, it is changing in size, shape, or color. This can be a sign of a problem and should be evaluated by a doctor. If a mole is evolving, it may indicate a problem, but not all evolving moles are cancerous. A mole that is not evolving but has other signs of melanoma, such as asymmetry, irregular border, or uneven color, should be evaluated.
If you notice any changes, you should consult your dermatologist at Manhattan Dermatology.