For a majority of people, mole is nothing more than brown spots on the skin, however, what is little known that these small brown spots can turn into skin cancer if ignored. There is no denying the fact that most moles are benign but a careful self-examination of your body & regular checkups must be conducted by a board-certified dermatologist to ascertain future risks of these small skin growths.
With a growing number of skin problems, it is really important that you keep a check on your skin and conduct a self-assessment one or twice a month in order to make sure that everything is fine. In case you notice something suspicious consult a medical practitioner immediately.
In this article, we’ll have a detailed understanding of different types of moles and how to identify if a mole is cancerous.
1. Congenital Nevi
Origin & Definition – Occurs at Birth. Also known as birthmarks or beauty marks. These types of moles are present in almost 2% of newborns. People with very big congenial nevi are at a higher risk of developing melanoma, a very rare form of skin cancer.
Structure – Usually tan brown color with an oval shape. Smaller congenital nevi are less than 1.5 cm. Medium sized are between 1.5-19.9 cm and giant ones are more than 20 cm.
Quick fact – It is believed that one in 100 children develop congenital nevus.
Is it cancerous? – It is more likely to turn into melanoma however, that doesn’t mean each congenital nevus will convert to cancer
Solution – These skin growths must be observed for any of ABCDE Characteristics of melanoma such as a change in shape, size or irritation, bleeding etc. If that happens, meet your doctor immediately.
Removal procedure – Check with your dermatologist about the various surgical procedures. Additionally, here’s an in-depth article we wrote on different removal procedures.
2. Dysplastic Nevi
Origin & Definition – Also known as Atypical Nevi. Their shape, size & structure is very similar to that of melanoma. These moles typically run into families with a history of atypical moles and melanoma. They grow mostly during childhood.
Size & Structure – Larger than ¼ inch (6 mm), size of a pencil eraser. Usually irregular in shape, uneven colour and rough edges.
Quick fact – People having more than 10 Dysplastic Nevis have a higher chance of developing melanoma.
Is it cancerous? – Usually benign but keep a vigil on such moles by monitoring your skin once every month.
Solution – Self-examine your body monthly for any changes in existing and growth of new moles. Minimize exposure to sunlight or apply high factor sunscreen. Visit your dermatologist regularly.
Removal Procedure – If removal becomes imminent, consult your doctor about the best removal procedure. The most popular medical procedures include shave removal, surgical excision and laser.
3. Common (Acquired) Nevi
Origin & Definition – It is normally found on skin exposed to UV/ sunlight and usually grows during late childhood.
Size & Structure – Size smaller than 5 mm, even, dome-shaped & smooth surface. Usually brown, tan or pink color.
Quick fact – According to WebMD, most people have between 10-40 common moles.
Is it cancerous? – Very rare chances of turning into melanoma.
Solution – Self-examination of skin and reduce exposure to sun or use wearables and apply high factor sunscreen.
Removal Procedure – Since the chances of developing into melanoma are rare, some people may want them removed for cosmetic reasons.
4. Junctional Nevi
Origin & Definition – Occur where epidermis (outer layer of skin) and dermis (mid layer of skin) meet.
Size & Structure – Slightly raised, smooth edges & dark colour
Quick fact – Appear before early adulthood.
Is it cancerous? – Chances of skin cancer are less.
Solution – Perform self-skin examinations monthly and visit your doctor at regular intervals.
Removal Procedure – Medically procedures are a great way to get rid of junctional moles.
5. Intradermal Nevi
Origin & Definition – Occur at dermis (mid layer of skin). Appear during late childhood and throughout adulthood.
Size & Structure – 5 mm – 1 cm, Slightly raised, dome-shaped, smooth edges & skin-coloured
Quick fact – Classic example of a skin coloured mole raised above its surface.
Is it cancerous? – Mostly benign
Solution – Self-examine & decrease exposure to UV rays.
6. Compound Nevi
Origin & Definition – It is a combination of junctional and intradermal nevus. Junctional melanocytes give dark color and Intradermal is responsible for raising of a mole.
Size & Structure – 2 mm – 7 mm, centre raised & flat edges, round/oval shaped, & brown coloured
Quick fact – These are not even considered a skin problem as a huge number of people develop compound nevi.
Is it cancerous? – Usually harmless
Solution – Self-checks, avoid sun exposure and report to your dermatologist if you observe any changes.
Removal Procedure – For cosmetic removals, consider mole removal procedures that result in less scarring.
7. Halo Nevi
Origin & Definition – Halo mole is also called as Sutton Nevi or Leukoderma acquisitum centrifugum. The reason it is called ‘Halo’ Nevi is that the mole is surrounded by Halo or a ring of depigmentation. These moles are sometimes aggravated by sunburn.
Size & Structure – Usually less than 6 mm, both raised & flat, rings of halo around the mole, round-shaped, & brown or light brown colour and light rings surrounding the nevi
Quick fact – They are always confused with melanoma by a lot of doctors & people, however, the fact is that they are completely harmless.
Is it cancerous ?– Majorly benign
Solution – Self-examine, meet the doctor at frequent intervals & apply high factor sunscreen while going out.
Removal Procedure – For benign moles you may look for less-invasive procedures for best cosmetic results.
8. Spitz Nevi
Origin & Definition – Largely uncommon, Spitz Nevi is usually found on face, neck and limbs. These are more frequently found in children. It doesn’t mean the adults don’t have them.
Size & Structure – Usually less than 10 mm, both raised & flat, dome-shaped, & reddish-brown colour
Quick fact – Fair-skinned people are more likely to develop Spitz Nevis. They often grow very rapidly. It may disappear over the course of time. The interesting thing about this mole is that there were previously described as melanomas based on their histological feature however, it is was later discovered that they showed no signs of malignant behaviour.
Is it cancerous? – Rarely malignant
Solution – Self-examine & Consult
Removal Procedure – Talk to your doctor regarding the best mole removal procedure.
9. Blue Nevus
Origin & Definition – Blue Nevi can be classified into two types – Common Blue Nevus and Cellular Blue Nevus. It can either be congenital or acquired. Some sources suggest that blue colour is due to Tyndall effect when the pigment cells are located in the dermis, the deeper layer of skin.
Size & Structure – Usually between 5 mm – 10 mm, both raised or flat, dome-shaped, blue-grey or blue-black colour
Location – head, feet, buttocks, neck, back of hands etc.
Quick fact – More popular with Asian population especially women. Remains unchanged throughout a person’s life.
Is it cancerous – Mostly safe
Solution – Self-examine, consult your doctor & minimize sun exposure
Removal Procedure – Discuss all possible alternatives with the practitioner. Also, check if a home remedy is an option.
Hope the article gives an idea about different mole types, whether they are cancerous or not, possible solutions and removal procedures. Although this article provides much information about different types of moles, however, we would still recommend that you consult a board-certified doctor to know about your moles & effective removal procedures.
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