Saturday 4 April 2015


Healthy mole

Moles are very common, so common that you'll struggle finding a single person on this earth that doesn't have one. Most moles are harmless, however some can be life threatening. Some people regard moles as a sign of beauty, while others see them as a sign of ugliness. Moles clearly mean different things to different people, so it's about time we starting talking about them...

What are moles?

Moles are simply a collection of cells that are skin coloured or brown. Most moles begin to form on the body in early childhood and by adulthood it's normal to have up to 40 moles. Moles can appear anywhere on the body, they can be raised or flat and they can be positioned alone or clustered together.

When it comes to moles on the face, the most common type are benign intradermal naevi. As Dr Perry, Medical Director of Cosmedics Skin Clinics, explains, "These are skin coloured or lightly brown moles that stick out of the skin often in areas around the chin and mouth but also on the cheeks and forehead".

As you age, your moles usually change - they can become bigger, raised and/or different in colour. Some moles may not change at all and, surprisingly, others can slowly disappear over time.

face moles health

What causes moles?

Moles are caused by cells in the skin (melanocytes) growing in a cluster, rather than being spread throughout the skin. Melanocytes are melanin-producing cells that gives skin its natural colour.

Are moles dangerous?

Most moles are completely harmless, however occasionally a type of skin cancer (called melanoma) can grow in or near a mole. 70% of all melanomas are new moles and they are most commonly located in the chest and back for men and lower legs for women.

Here is an example of a cancerous mole:

cancerous mole

Because moles can be cancerous, it is important to keep an eye on them. Dr Perry recommends examining your entire body (including the soles of your feet) every three months. You need to look for any changes in the colour, height, size and shape of your moles. Also, remember that the most suspicious moles will look different from all of your other moles.

The 'ABCDE' method is a great way of remembering what to look out for:
  • Asymmetry - does the shape of one side not match the other? 
  • Border - are the edges of the mole rough, blurred or irregular? 
  • Colour - is the mole's colour uneven or does it include shades of black, brown and tan? 
  • Diameter - has the mole changed (normally increased) in size? 
  • Evolving - has the mole started changing over the past few weeks or months? 

Be sure to pay special attention to areas of the skin that are often exposed to the sun (for example hands, arms, chest, neck, face) and if you notice any of the changes above, please consult your doctor straight away.

How do you treat moles?

Not all moles need to be treated, after all most of them are harmless. However, many people want moles removed for cosmetic (or other) reasons. This is because some people find their moles unattractive or they have them in places on the body that cause irritation (moles can catch on clothing or rub against other parts of the body).

There are many ways in which a mole can be removed - the most common treatments being laser removal, shave excision or ellipse excision. Each procedure is quick and relatively painless and is carried out using local anaesthetic.

When it comes to suspicious-looking moles, a person will have to undergo an examination to see if there is real cause for concern. If there is, a doctor will either remove the entire mole and have it checked or take a biopsy. If the mole, or tissue sample, is found to be cancerous, further treatment will be required.

To help prevent skin cancer and ensure your moles remain healthy, it's important to incorporate a high SPF into your beauty routine. Whether it is the middle of winter or you spend most of your days indoors, you'll need to be protected at all times because the sun's harmful rays are everywhere.

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