Moles are spots on the skin. Nearly everyone has 10 to 50 moles on their body. Actually, you are born with moles that are flesh colored. Through time moles enlarge and darken making them more noticeable. Moles are often referred to as beauty marks and at various times in history moles on the face have been considered attractive and were created artificially with dyes or makeup. Others find moles unsightly and have the moles removed for cosmetic purposes or concern that the moles might become cancerous. A single mole is called ‘nevus’ and multiple moles are called ‘nevi’. Moles occur when skin cells called melanocytes grow in clusters instead of being spread throughout the skin. Melanocytes make the pigment that gives skin its natural color. This pigment darkens under ultraviolet light from the sun or tanning beds and creates a tan. In many cultures the tan look connotes being healthy, but scientific research is changing that perspective. Recent scientific studies point to overexposure to UV light as a contributing factor to skin cancers. One of the most virulent types of skin cancer is melanoma. Melanoma begins in meloncytes cells. It can begin on a new site on the skin, but frequently begins in moles where the meloncyte cells cluster. Normal moles or nevi have the following characteristics:
- They range in color from pink, light to dark browns and even to black.
- Their shape can be round or oval.
- Their size can range from barely visible to quite large areas.
- They may form a raised bump on the skin or they may be flat
- They may or may not have hairs.
How to treat moles
- Electrosurgery. A physician shaves the mole with a scalpel then destroys the tissue below the surface with an electric needle. If the wounds size warrants it, the wound is sutured closed. some scarring possible.
- Laser surgery. A physician uses a special laser to destroy the nevi tissue. This procedure minimizes destruction of surrounding tissue. Some scarring is possible.
- Surgery. Surgery is the most common option to treat moles. A small elliptical incision is made around the mole and it is removed. The defect is closed with fine sutures which result in a small scar which fades away over time.