A skin mole (melanocytic nevi) is a permanent or acquired dark spot on the skin. Usually it is part of skin pigmentation and appears on part of the body, where melanocytes form cluster formations. Most often moles are a benign growth of the color cells of the skin (melanocytes) and can even add some charm to the appearance of their owners. However, sometimes moles can cause a serious health risk.
Moles naturally appear in the first year of life and are believed to be the result of a disorder in the development of the fetal cells. Women are prone to having more moles appear on their skin throughout the second or third decade of their life due to sunburns or as a result of pregnancy. The skin mole can range in color from light to dark brown, even black. The size and form can also vary. The single skin mole is referred to in medical terms as a nevus. The nevi (the plural for a nevus) can be in singular clusters or spread on the entire torso, arms and legs. The surface of the moles may be flat or raised. Some will sprout a few hairs, which is normal.
Types Of Skin Mole
There are several skin mole types. The most common one is the lentigo, which is most often seen in people with dark skin. It is a dark circular mark with the size of a lentil bean and with a slightly elevated surface. Its color can be yellow-brown or dark brown. Usually it doesn’t sprout any hair.
Another type is the cellular. It is a raised hemispherical formation, which is soft to touch with smooth or with a furrow pattern. The color can be the same as the skin, grayish or dark purple. The size can vary from that of a lentil bean to a cherry. This type of mole usually appears on the face and torso.
The blue nevus. It appears mostly on the face in the shape of small lentil-like ganglions, which have a blue color and can be seen through the skin. The blue nevus is composed of melanocytes, the cells which produce the melanin pigment. This nevus gets its name from the distinct clinical appearance because of the pigmented cells within the dermis. It is benign and is usually more of a cosmetic problem.
Is a mole really a charm for luck, money and happiness – I don’t know – but in all cases a skin mole (especially on the face) can add some charm to the appearance of its owner. The rich and famous women are a living proof: Angelina Jolie has a mole right above her right eyebrow, Beyonce Knowles – next to her left eye, Cindy Crawford – left of her lips, Madonna – under her nostrils, Julia Roberts – under each one of her eyes, Scarlet Johanson – on her right cheek, Kim Cattrall – left below her lips and so on…
Skin moles can become a serious health problem if they turn into a malignant formation, known as melanoma. Although an individual’s risk for developing melanoma depends a great deal on their family history and inherited genes, the extreme exposure to ultraviolet (UVA) rays is one of the major contributors to the development of melanoma. The severe sunburns during childhood are the most risky ones.
The uncontrolled growth of the melanocytes leads to the formation of many cancerous cells that divide repeatedly at abnormal rates. They appear on the skin’s surface as dark brown or black flat moles. These should be observed carefully as the basic symptoms they can show are: bleeding, irregular form, change in size or color, itchiness or painfulness. Changes in a skin mole or multiple moles warrant immediate attention by a dermatologist.
Applying sun cream with a high UVA factor every time you expose parts of your body to the sun is strongly recommended as prophylactics.
In extremely rare cases the lentigo can develop as a malignant formation. The signs are enlargements of the mole and black coloration. Small circular marks appear around the mole and the skin becomes inflame. This is why moles should be avoided while shaving and they shouldn’t be scratched, hit or picked at.
If you have a skin mole that meets any of the following criteria – change in size or form, irregular outlines, bleeding, irregular pigmentation or other unusual symptoms – the removal of that mole is mandatory.
Of course, you should always consult with a specialist who will determine whether the mole can be removed with a cut or if a more substantial surgical intervention will be needed.
Despite the fact that it is a widespread belief that the removal of skin moles is dangerous, this is not true at all. Their removal, if performed right, makes the skin smoother, cleaner and decreases the risk of irritations.
A skin tag (or acrochordon) is a small growth on the skin. It generally looks like a soft piece of flesh hanging from the skin. Usually they are benign (not cancerous), though very rarely they may be malignant. A skin tag usually has a thin stalk connecting it to the skin; these growths are usually tiny but sometimes can reach a half inch in length and a few centimeters in diameter. They are usually found on the face, neck, armpits, folds on the body, groin, and trunk, but can appear in other areas as well. They are typically the same color as the skin, but they are occasionally darker in color.
Fortunately, they are completely harmless. Most often appear during middle age and are not a sign of any underlying medical condition or problem, though people who are overweight or have diabetes are more likely to develop. Some people may be genetically predisposed. Doctors believe that skin tags form when skin rubs against skin or clothing, explaining why they are often found in skin folds. They rarely cause pain and will usually not get larger or change in any way. Since they stick out, they may rub against clothing or body parts, becoming irritated and uncomfortable in the process. Occasionally, they will fall off spontaneously, though most do not.
is not medically necessary and are normally removed for cosmetic reasons: in conspicuous or easily visible locations may be embarrassing for patients, who will then want them removed. Occasionally, they can cause discomfort, necessitating their removal. A dermatologist can easily recognize skin tags and inform the patient of the next course of action. Occasionally, if the skin tag is an unusual shape, size, or color, a biopsy may be required to rule out skin cancer or another medical condition. Most of the time they can be easily removed by a dermatologist in his or her office. A dermatologist often uses surgical methods to safely and carefully remove them without damaging the surrounding area. Dermatologists may use methods like cryotherapy (freezing skin tags off), burning with electricty (cautery), or even surgery (simply cutting it). For smaller, local anesthesia is unnecessary, but if they are large, it may be necessary to numb the area to dull the pain of surgery. If the skin tag is on the eyelid, the patient may have to consult an ophthalmologist, as the growth is in a very sensitive area and cannot be removed with normal dermatological means.
Skin tags can also be removed without the help of a doctor. Sometimes they will fall off by themselves, while other times simply scratching the skin tag regularly can remove it. People can also take more drastic measures to remove them, such as using scissors or a knife to cut the skin tag away. If a skin tag is cut, however, it will bleed heavily, so people should not attempt to remove skin tags themselves unless the instruments are sterilized and bleeding is controlled. It may also be unpleasant and painful to cut them away. In addition, removing them improperly may lead to infection, injury, or scarring of the area. Another easy at home method to remove skin tags is to tie a piece of dental floss, thread, or string around the stalk. This knot restricts the blood flow to the tag, allowing the tag to die and fall off over a number of days. There are also products on the market that claim to remove skin tags. These products can be purchased at pharmacies and act like common wart removers, drying out or ‘freezing’ the skin tags until they fall off, usually after around seven to ten days. Always do research and ask your doctor before using any skin tag remover.
Once skin tags are removed, they will not grow back nor leave scars in the affected area. It is untrue that removing a skin tag will cause more to sprout up in its place. However, removing skin tags from the body doesn’t preclude the possibility of their appearance in other areas.