Moles

Moles

Skin Moles & Melanoma Treatment in Gainesville, FL

Moles are a common type of skin growth. On average, most people have 10–40 moles on their bodies, some of which may change in appearance or fade over time. The majority of moles are harmless and pose no risk to a person’s health and wellbeing. However, monitoring moles on the skin is an extremely important step in detecting skin cancer, such as malignant melanomas. For comprehensive care of skin moles and other Gainesville dermatology needs, contact Gainesville Dermatology & Skin Surgery today!

What are Skin Moles?

A common mole, or nevus, is a skin growth that develops when pigmented cells, also called melanocytes, grow together in clusters.

  • What Moles Look Like: Typical moles are brown spots, but can also be red, pink, tan, black or blue in color. Moles are typically round or oval in shape and less than a quarter of an inch in size, comparable to the size of an eraser at the end of a pencil.
  • Where Moles Grow: Moles can develop anywhere on the body, including the scalp, armpits, under nails, and between fingers and toes. Moles can form in areas of the skin that are both exposed to the sun or shielded from the sun.

How are Moles Classified?

Most moles are harmless. However, the presence of atypical moles and moles that have changed in color, shape and texture require expert assessment by a dermatologist in Gainesville. Depending on appearance and and when the mole was developed, there are three classifications of moles.

  • Congenital Moles: Also called congenital nevi, these moles are present at birth. Approximately one percent of all people are born with congenital moles. These have a slightly higher risk of becoming cancerous and should be monitored by a Gainesville dermatologist regularly.
  • Acquired Moles: Acquired moles develop after childbirth, usually during childhood and early adulthood. The most common type of mole, these are typically smaller than a quarter inch and are developed due to sun exposure. The majority of acquired moles won’t become cancerous.
  • Atypical Moles: Also called dysplastic nevi, atypical moles are uneven in color, larger than a quarter of an inch, and have uneven or irregular borders and textures.These types of moles are often hereditary and have a high risk of becoming cancerous. While dysplastic nevi can occur anywhere on the body, they are often found in areas exposed to the sun.

What is Melanoma?

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that begins in clustered pigmented cells. This type of cancer is highly dangerous because it has the ability to invade tissues nearby and spread to the rest of the body, like the lungs, liver, bones or brain. While it is not the most common type of skin cancer, melanoma is the most dangerous and requires medical treatment, such as dermatology surgery.

Identifying Melanoma

Often, the first signs of a melanoma is a change in shape, color, size or feel of an already existing mole. However, melanoma may also appear on the skin as a new colored area. This version of ABC’s can help you identify them.

  1. Asymmetry. Moles that look different on one side than the other. Look for unusual shapes, such as sharp edges on one side and smooth rounded edges on the other.
  2. Border Irregularity. The mole’s edges can appear jagged, notched or blurred. Pigment may be spread into skin outside the mole’s outline.
  3. Color Unevenness. Look for growths with uneven or changed colors or ones that have many colors. Shades of black, brown gray, tan, and white may be seen.
  4. Diameter. Changes in size, usually increases. Some melanomas can be small, but the majority are more than a quarter inch wide.
  5. Evolving. Moles that change in size, shape color, or height, especially if a portion of the mole becomes black. Moles can also develop new symptoms like bleeding or irritation and require attention of a Gainesville dermatologist.  

Diagnosing Melanoma

Foremost experts in treatment of moles and melanoma, Gainesville Dermatology & Skin Surgery professionals note that the only way to diagnose a melanoma is to remove tissue from the growth and send it to a pathologist to test it for cancerous cells.   

Make an Appointment with A Dermatologist in Gainesville, FL

If you suspect something isn’t right with a mole, contact a dermatologist in Gainesville as soon as possible. Early detection is key to successful treatment of melanoma and other skin cancers. Your dermatologist will perform a full-body skin exam and scan. If the dermatologist finds a suspicious mole, a biopsy will be performed. The results will determine what steps you should take, including whether you should have dermatology surgery.