You should never try to remove a mole by yourself at home. While it seems simple, you may end up with an infection or a scar. Only dermatologists have the advanced training to know how to best remove a specific mole, and also to know if a mole may be cancerous.
Moles are a very common type of growth on the skin. They most often first appear in childhood and adolescence. They may continue to appear up to about age 30.
Moles are caused when the cells that are responsible for pigment, or color, in the skin become clustered together instead of being spread out evenly. When these clusters of melanocytes are exposed to sun, they may darken. The most common types of moles include:
- Common moles are usually round or oval; have an even color of pink, brown or black; and smaller in diameter than ¼ inch, which is about the size of a pencil eraser.
- Dysplastic nevi (atypical moles) are unusual looking moles that resemble malignant melanoma. They may be larger than a ¼ inch, have an irregular shape, border or color. People with dysplastic nevi are at a higher risk of developing malignant melanoma in their lifetime and should be followed regularly by their dermatologist.
- Congenital nevi are moles that appear at birth. These type of moles are more likely to turn into melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, than are moles that appear after birth. Watch these moles for the ABCDE’s of melanoma.
Moles change over time. They may get bigger, change shape or color, or they may even disappear. Although most moles are harmless, some may change into pre-cancers or turn into skin cancer.