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Moles and Mole Removal

Moles, or “nevi” are common benign growths on the skin. Almost every adult has a few moles, usually in the range of 10 to 40 moles. Adults who have light skin often have more moles. Typically, moles are one color, usually brown or tan, but can also be black, red, pink, blue, skin toned, or colorless.  They are usually round or oval and can appear anywhere on the skin. Most moles appear by the age of 20, although some moles may appear later in life Most moles are harmless, but a change in size, shape, color or texture could be indicative of a cancerous growth. Moles that have a higher-than-average chance of becoming cancerous include:

Congenital Nevi

When a person is born with a mole, the mole is called a congenital mole. Roughly, 1 out of 100 people is born with a mole. These moles vary in size from small to giant. Having giant congenital moles increases a person’s risk of developing melanoma.

Atypical Dysplastic Nevi

Irregularly shaped moles that are larger than average are called atypical dysplastic nevi. They often appear to have dark brown centers with light, uneven borders.

Higher frequency of moles

People with 50 or more moles are at a greater risk for developing a skin cancer.

In some cases, abnormal moles may become painful, itchy, scaly or bleed. It’s important to keep an eye on your moles so that you can catch any changes early. We recommend doing a visual check of your body monthly, including all areas that don’t have sun exposure (such as the scalp, armpits or bottoms of feet).

Use the American Academy of Dermatology’s ABCDEs as a guide for assessing whether or not a mole may be becoming cancerous:

  • Asymmetry: Half the mole does not match the other half in size, shape or color.
  • Border: The edges of moles are irregular, scalloped, or poorly defined.
  • Color: The mole is not the same color throughout.
  • Diameter: The mole is usually greater than 6 millimeters when diagnosed, but may also be smaller.
  • Evolving: A mole or skin lesion that is different from the rest, or changes in size, shape, or color.

If any of these conditions occur, please make an appointment at Teton Dermatology to see one of our dermatologists right away. The doctor may do a biopsy of the mole to determine if it is or isn’t cancerous and/or may surgically remove it.

Most moles do not require treatment. A dermatologist will remove a mole that:

  • Bothers a patient (rubs against clothing, etc.).
  • A patient finds unattractive.
  • Could be skin cancer.

A dermatologist can remove a mole during an office visit. A few moles may require a second visit. Whether it’s during 1 or 2 visits, a dermatologist can safely and easily remove a mole. A dermatologist will use 1 of these procedures:

  • Surgical excision: The dermatologist cuts out the entire mole and stitches the skin closed.
  • Surgical shave: The dermatologist uses a surgical blade to remove the mole.

The dermatologist will send the mole to a lab. It will be examined under a microscope. This is called a biopsy.

Never try to shave off a mole at home.

Here’s why you should never try to shave off a mole at home:

  • If the mole contains skin cancer, some of the cancer cells can stay in the skin — and even spread.
  • You can disfigure your skin, causing a scar.
  • You can cause an infection.

Call Teton Dermatology at 307-734-1800 to schedule your mole evaluation or removal.

Call Teton Dermatology at 307-734-1800 to schedule your mole evaluation or removal.