Sure, if Wind in the Willows is your favorite book of all time, you probably have a special place in your heart for moles. Everyone else? Not so much.
As for the other type of moles, those that take up residence on your skin, maybe only Cindy Crawford has an affinity for them. Human moles are one of a variety of skin lesions that us humans tend to grow. Moles, freckles, skin tags, benign lentigines, and seborrheic keratoses — they’re all part of the club.
The question is, when do you leave them and when do you get them removed by Dr. Kirwan? Here’s the deal with the non-burrowing variety of mole.
Usually brown or black, moles can grow anywhere on your skin. Most moles develop in the first 30 years of a person’s life. This is important when wondering if they are cancerous or not. And everyone has at least a few — the average person has between 10 and 40 moles!
Over time, those moles change. Some will develop nasty hairs. Others will become more raised or change color. Others will disappear.
What causes these little buggers to grow? Moles occur when melanocyte cells (responsible for skin color) grow in clusters rather than being spread throughout the skin. Due to their pigment relationship, some moles darken with sun exposure, during the hormonal teenage years, and during pregnancy.
Moles and cancer
The vast majority of moles are simply hanging out, kind of like your Uncle Vince who hasn’t had a regular job in 12 years. They are harmless. Occasionally a mole changes color, height, size, or shape. That’s when you need to get it checked by Dr. Kirwan. Cancerous growths usually form after age 30, while moles usually form well before then.
Moles rarely turn into melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. However, people with more than 50 moles (uh, whoa) are more likely to develop melanoma.
These are the things to keep an eye on with your mole collection:
- A mole changes color
- It changes height, shape, or texture
- Its size changes unevenly
- Skin becomes rough and scaly
- Mole feels hard or lumpy
- It itches, oozes, or bleeds.
Moles bother some people because of their location, whether in a highly visible spot or an irritating one (such as in line with a bra strap). Dr. Kirwan usually excises the moles in his office in a simple procedure.
Are you wondering about a mole? Call Dr. Kirwan in his Norwalk, New York, or London office and let’s take a look at it.