Telling the Difference between Normal Moles and Potential Skin Cancer
It is not always easy to differentiate between normal moles and atypical ones that are usually at high risk of turning into melanoma.
Fortunately, most moles that develop on people’s skins will most likely not turn into skin cancer/melanoma. Only very few of skin moles pose the danger of becoming cancerous. Read on for an overview on normal moles and malignant ones and the different qualities that can help you tell the difference.
Table of Contents
What is a common mole?
A normal mole is a growth that develops on the skin when melanocytes (pigment cells) grow in groups. The average adult will develop between 10 and 40 normal moles in their lifetime. Normal moles are usually found above the waist and typically on areas that are exposed to sunlight. You will seldom find them on breasts, buttocks or the scalp.
While normal moles may be there at birth, they generally appear later in the youthful stage. It is not unusual to find a 40-yr-old adult developing new moles. However, if you develop new moles in your senior years, they tend to fade away, eventually. Nevus, is the other name given to a mole – nevi, in plural.
While there are various types of moles, most appear as small dark spots anywhere on a person’s skin. Round or oval shape is usually the outline a skin mole takes; not forgetting being elevated or flat. The size also differs from small to big; while the color is generally brown, black or red. It is not uncommon to have pink moles also. It is normal for most people to have several moles as everyone is born with moles. These moles are given the name – congenital nevi.
Well, quite a few skin moles are hidden at birth, however, they will eventually appear after darkening with age. You will also find that some skin moles will fade away with time, while others do not change at all. Normally, an individual will have from 10 to 40 moles anywhere on the body. You should also remember that skin moles may appear very frequently, so, do not be alarmed.
The four main causes for skin mole occurrences include:
- Genetic heredity.
- How long you are exposed to sunlight.
- Hormonal changes.
Three of these causes – age, heredity and hormonal changes are beyond your control and are considered to be mostly chance more than planned. However, the time you take to lounge in the sunlight is up to an individual; though some adverse situations such as a job that involves working outside in the sun may force a one to be in the sunlight for extended periods of time.
Sadly, if you are a parent with a background of having lots of skin moles, then you are more likely to pass on to your children. You should also watch out for any history of skin cancer in your family since this is viewed as a greater likelihood for moles growing into melanoma.
What are melanocytes?
Melanocytes are the skin cells that produce the pigment melanin, which gives color to a person’s skin and hair. All people have melanocytes, however, those with darker skin have more melanin than people with light skin do.
The color of the skin and hair is usually determined by how active your melanocytes are but not by how many of these cells you have.
What is Melanocytic Nevus?
When melanocytes start changing and grow uncontrollably, they form growths on the skin. A tumor can be harmless while others can be malignant and spread to other parts of the body (cancerous). Melanocytic nevus is a non-malignant form of skin lesion. It appears within the first two decades of a person’s life.
It is generally evenly formed, have a broad base, deeply pigmented, firm and a diameter that is less than 2 cm. they also come in brown or pink coloration. However, melanocytic nevi are usually mobile under underlying skin tissues. Melanocytic nevus is associated with ordinary birthmarks and can appear to be a plain beauty mark.
Melanocytic nevi are more likely to grow throughout a person’s life and peaks in the 30’s and 40’s. Although this condition is not usually life threatening, immediate treatment upon diagnosis is greatly advised.
This is because individual’s who happen to get melanocytic nevus are also at a slight risk of developing melanoma (2%-5% chance).
Risk Factors of Melanocytic Nevus:
- If you have more than 100 moles, your chances of developing melanocytic nevus increase
- It is hereditary. If you have this condition, then you are more likely to pass it on to your offspring.
- If you have a weak immune system, may be due to certain medications, then you are at a higher risk of developing melanocytic nevus.
- If you expose yourself to too much sunlight, and especially in the adolescence stage, chances of developing melanocytic nevus increase.
- Melanocytic nevus usually develops during adolescence
Signs and Symptoms
The most common method to recognizing the signs and symptoms of this condition is the contraction ABCDE:
- Asymmetrical/ Irregular skin lesion
- Border of the affected area is uneven
- Color fluctuates from tan, pink to brown. The area can also show signs of cracking, itching, or bleeding.
- Diameter of the lesion is more than 6mm and thus causes pain and lots of sensitivity
- Evolution of the growth is a sign of melanoma
If you happen to be in a family with a history of melanocytic nevus, then it is highly advised that you get annual skin checkups. Self-examination is also highly recommended. Protect yourself from direct sun rays by wearing sun screen or avoiding the sun when possible.
If you are diagnosed with melanocytic nevus, the abnormal mole should be removed. If the growth is pretty much advanced, then it should be removed by a qualified physician. Before you try to remove any moles from your skin, you should first confirm that they are indeed normal moles and not some other skin disorder.
Some products that have been shown to be highly effective in normal mole removal include:
- Wart and Mole Vanish
Warts and Mole Vanish is another great cream that removes moles in a smooth and easy way. It is a quick relief cream that begins working in just 15-20 minutes. Once you apply it on your mole, the color of the mole will first turn into a grayish color before turning into black. For best results, apply it regularly for 5-6 days. The best thing about Wart and Mole Vanish is that it has no painful or burning sensation.
Nevexen, commonly known as Nevi-Skin Topical Treatment, is a 100% natural product made from herbal products that gets rid of most skin lesions such as warts and moles in a safe and effective manner. It is not only reliable, but also effective as it provides quick and long lasting results.
1 container of Nevexen contains enough cream to treat an average of about 10-30 small moles. There are also larger packages perfect for the treatment of more spots which come at a greater price unit as well. In most cases, all it takes is a single application.
Price per Container: $70
Dermatend removes unsightly skin moles and other skin lesions within 1-3 days without any invasive surgery. The active ingredient in the cream breaks in the skin destroying the bad tissues in the process. Your immune system then gets into the process of repairing the affected area immediately. Dermatend produces clean results and works on all types of moles. It can also be used on children; however, it is best to first conduct an allergy test due to the bloodroot in the solution which may cause some burning sensation.
- Bio-T Herbals
Bio-T herbals is a dark colored mole removal cream that gets rid of moles and other skin lesions in approximately one week. However, in the event that your moles are unusually obstinate, then it may take up to 3 months to remove them. You can either use it topically or take it orally in the form of capsules. It also has no burning sensation.
Never attempt to remove your mole at home. Get it checked by a physician to rule out any likelihood of it being cancerous.
Always remember that the process of getting rid of unsightly moles is unique for every person. The healing process once the moles have been removed also varies per individual. You should thus, be prepared for the healing process, no matter which method you choose; and especially for those who are more prone to scarring more than others.
Normal skin vs Melanoma
Normal moles are usually smaller than the head of a pencil eraser, whose diameter is normally less than six millimeters. They exhibit an even color and perfect symmetry. A normal mole is stable and does not change.
Again most types of moles are the normal ones. When a mole becomes malignant, it goes through several changes. Typically, if a mole on the skin becomes cancerous, it will most likely be melanoma though there are other forms of skin cancer. Even when this happens, if it is diagnosed in time, it almost always can be corrected. In order to know whether your mole could be a potential skin cancer, always follow the ABCDE acronym.
If your mole fits the explanation of any of the following, then you should be concerned that it could be skin cancer/melanoma:
- A – asymmetry
Normal moles have a regular shape (symmetrical), which means that if a line was to be drawn down the middle of a normal mole, both halves would be identical. Asymmetrical moles are atypical and should be examined by a physician.
- B – borders
Irregular, distorted or toothed borders are a sign of a malignant mole.
- C – colors
Color is another factor that helps in differentiating between an abnormal mole from a normal one. Normal healthy moles typically have one constant color, while atypical moles can have numerous shades of color. It is also vital to make note of any coloration in the shades of blue or white in a mole as it may be a sign of being cancerous. If you detect multiple colors in your mole, have it checked by your doctor.
- D – diameter
Normal moles are usually not more than 6mm. if your have a mole that has a bigger diameter, then have it examined by your doctor. It is usually equivalent to the diameter of a pencil eraser. However, it doesn’t mean that smaller moles can’t be malignant, they could be. It is thus important to look for the signs as well.
- E – evolution
Note any changes in size, color, shape and other features in skin moles. Detecting any abnormalities earlier on could be a life saver. If your moles grow symptoms such as abnormal tenderness, bleeding, itching or evolving in any way after some time, then it could be a wake-up call to seek medical attention as soon as possible. This is why it is significant to check both regularly and to also look for any transformation that may have taken place since the last examination.
Normal skin moles
Remember to always check your moles on a regular basis; and in the event that you find a mole that you are worried about, do not delay to see a doctor.
The types of skin moles that most people have are the normal ones – whether acquired, hereditary, elevated or flat. Unless you see a sudden change in the moles on your skin, you are just like most people who have some moles on their bodies.
You can find further details of Types of moles here.