Moles are a fleshy cell growth on the surface of the skin. They can be congenital (present at birth) or acquired (appearing after birth). Moles are smooth and round, irregularly shaped, or wart-like in appearance.
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Most moles are not cancerous. Skin cancer is serious but highly treatable and should be evaluated and treated by a doctor.
Steps to stop mole growth
Check your body monthly for moles and other growths on the skin using a mirror or the help of a friend. Determine the number, type, size, and shape of your moles. Having a few moles is normal, especially for light-skinned individuals.
Look for asymmetric spots, irregular borders, different colors (including flesh- colored), spots larger than the size of a pencil eraser, or spots that bleed or do not heal. Those are abnormal moles.
Keep track so you will know if your existing moles become abnormal or spread. Changes do not necessarily mean you have skin cancer. See a doctor for an evaluation. Hormonal changes and aging may change the look and feel of your moles.
Choose a treatment option. Over-the-counter kits, known as cryotherapy, are available at most drug stores.
Avoid products claiming to cure moles quickly and sales pitches relying mainly on testimonials. Nonprescription creams are available, mostly from Internet stores, which claim to be “mole cures”. There is little evidence they are safe and effective. In fact, they may cause scarring.
Opt for treatment by your physician if your moles are abnormal, large, or in a difficult place for you to remove.
Treat your moles. To use a cryotherapy kit, wash the area with soap and water. Freeze the mole by holding the small, tube-like instrument over the mole for about a minute. Be sure to follow all package directions.
To have a physician treat your moles, clean the area. Do not wear lotions or cosmetics. She will shave the top or excise the mole with a surgical blade or laser. She may use a few stitches afterward to seal the wound.
Prevent changes, spread, and growth of moles by wearing sun block with a sun protection factor of at least 15. Avoid direct sun, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Do not use tanning salons or expose your skin to sun in an effort to get a tan. Protect your skin with clothing, wide-brimmed hats, and sunglasses.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- American Osteopathic College of Dermatology: Moles
- National Library of Medicine: About Moles and Skin Cancer
- US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Skin Cancer
- National Cancer Institute: Moles and Dysplastic Nevi
- Pediatric Dermatology: Adverse Effects of a Mole Removal Cream
- US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Basic Information about Skin Cancer
- Skin Cancer Foundation: Guidelines for Healthy Skin
- American Cancer Society: Skin Cancer Prevention and Early Detection