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When Is a Mole a Cause for Alarm?

Moles, those little fleshy balls of tissue on your skin, are perfectly normal. Heredity has a lot to do with how many you have, and they typically crop up during childhood, the teen years, and early adulthood. It’s normal to have between 10-40 moles on your body, and the color can range from white or pink to light brown or black.

Moles form when your skin cells grow in clumps rather than in an even layer. By the time you're about 25 years old, you generally have all the moles you’re going to get. New moles may be a cause for concern.

To find out for sure, it’s best to seek a professional evaluation from experienced dermatologists like Dr. Ritchie Rosso Jr. and Dr. Robert Chappell Jr. at Chappell Rosso Dermatology and Laser & Aesthetic Center in Odessa, Texas. When you have suspicious moles, our team performs a comprehensive skin evaluation and lets you know if there’s any cause for concern. Here are some things to watch out for.

Asymmetry

When it comes to evaluating moles, use the ABCDE method, which is a simple acronym to remember the five characteristics of a potentially problematic mole. The A stands for asymmetry.

If your mole is not symmetrical, it should be checked out. If one side is smooth and round, but the other is jagged or if the halves of your mole are mismatched in any way, it could be a sign of melanoma, a type of skin cancer

Border

The edges of normal moles are typically smooth and rounded. If the border of your mole is scalloped or notched, it may be cause for concern. The border should be distinct from the rest of your skin and should not appear as if it has spilled over and spread onto the neighboring tissues. Skin cancer grows erratically, making it easy to spot the warning signs when it breaks the mold of a healthy mole.

Color

Whether your mole is tan, brown, black, or white, the important thing is that it’s one color throughout. Smooth, solid, consistent coloration is indicative of a normal mole, but flecks of other colors, blended shades of black and brown, patches of red, and half-and-half colored moles may be cancerous.

Diameter

The size of your moles matters. We consider it normal if your moles are about the diameter of a pencil eraser (about a quarter inch or 6 millimeters) or smaller. Anything bigger than that, especially if it has irregular borders or color variations, too, should be examined.

Evolving

Change is the number one cause for concern in moles. Moles that look the same year after year and “stay in their lane” so to speak, are typically no cause for worry. Change of any type is a sign to at least have it looked at. If it’s growing in size, evolving into a different shape, changing colors, or becoming itchy or oozy, it’s time to get it checked.

What to do if your mole fails the ABCDE test

If your mole fails any or all parts of the ABCDE test, don’t panic, but do schedule an appointment immediately. After examining your concerning mole, we may be able to put your mind at ease right away or perform a biopsy to take a small sample of the tissue and test it to determine whether it’s cancerous or not.

If there’s reason for concern, we may remove the mole using laser technology. And if we diagnose you with squamous cell carcinoma or basal cell carcinoma, two common types of skin cancer, Drs. Ritchie and Chappell are specially trained in the advanced technique called Mohs surgery that precisely and efficiently removes every cancerous cell.

The best way to treat suspicious moles is to check them regularly and seek help if you notice any changes. Early treatment is critical to your chances of a full recovery.

To learn more or to schedule an appointment for a mole check, contact us at 432-217-0344, or use our online booking tool to set up a consultation. 

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