As summer fades into fall, you might be admiring the last few weeks of your hard-earned summer freckles. These harmless little brownish spots are caused by the overproduction of melanin, usually due to exposure to ultraviolet light. You probably notice a new freckle or two each year, but how can you tell if that little brownish spot is truly another harmless freckle or a questionable mole? Continue reading to learn more about how to spot the difference between a freckle and a mole.
WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERISTICS OF MOLES AND FRECKLES?
Freckles are extremely common and show up most often in places that receive the most sun, like the face, hands and arms. These flat, brownish spots are harmless lesions that can fade in and out over time.
Moles are brown or black skin lesions that tend to be raised and appear alone or in groups. They are caused by skin cell overgrowth in one spot rather than an even, flat growth. Moles begin to develop in childhood, with more tending to appear as we age. Moles are known to change in shape, texture or hairiness throughout your life. Unlike freckles, you should monitor the changes of a mole very carefully for signs of cancer.
WHAT SHOULD YOU LOOK FOR IN A MOLE?
Most moles do not present any danger of cancer. However, problematic moles tend to appear differently than the other moles on your body and after the age of 25. If you notice a new or existing mole with a different color, texture, size or shape, you should consult your dermatologist. A doctor should also check any mole that oozes, itches or is painful.
If you are concerned about a mole and are unsure about whether it is concerning or not, you should see a dermatologist.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF MOLES?
Congenital Nevi: Congenital nevi are moles that are present at birth. These occur in about one in one hundred people. These moles are more likely to develop into melanoma than moles that appear after birth.
Dysplastic Nevi: Dysplastic nevi are moles that are generally larger than average, bigger than a pencil eraser and irregular in shape. They tend to have uneven colors with dark brown centers and lighter, uneven edges. People who have ten or more dysplastic nevi have a higher chance of developing melanoma.
HOW CAN I MANAGE AND REDUCE MOLES AND FRECKLES?
Although some are born with freckles and moles, you can manage and reduce the occurrence of more. Some ways to manage and mitigate moles and freckles are:
- Protect yourself from the sun using sunscreen and protective clothing
- Contact your doctor if you notice any changes or pain in your moles
- Ask your dermatologist about laser treatment options that might work for you
- Consider topical fading creams to reduce the appearance of freckles.
- Look into chemical peel treatment options to remove damaged skin and rejuvenate
HOW DO I KNOW IF A MOLE IS CANCEROUS?
Examine your skin and pay attention to areas of the skin that are often exposed to the sun, including your arms, face or chest. Knowing the ABCDEs is essential when examining moles. If a mole displays any of the signs listed, have it checked immediately by a dermatologist. It could be cancerous.
- Asymmetry: One half of the mole does not match the other half.
- Border: The border or edges of the mole are ragged, irregular or blurred.
- Color: The mole color is not the same throughout or has shades of tan, brown, blue, red, white, or black.
- Diameter: The diameter of a mole is larger than the eraser of a pencil.
- Evolution: The mole is changing in shape, color, or size.
VISIT YOUR DERMATOLOGIST | THE DERMATOLOGY CENTER FOR SKIN HEALTH, PLLC
If you are concerned about a mole or are curious about reducing the appearance of skin lesions, contact the Dermatology Center for Skin Health, PLLC, today. The Dermatology Center has expert care and high-quality options to help you heal and feel confident in your skin.
At the Dermatology Center for Skin Care, PLLC, our priority is to deliver quality care to informed patients in a comfortable and convenient setting. You will benefit from a dedicated team of trained professionals who give you the individualized attention you deserve.
Give us a call at (304) 598-3888 or click here to contact us online. We’re currently accepting new patients and encourage you to make your appointment soon. We look forward to hearing from you!