Most moles are harmless & do not need to be removed. You may wish you have a mole removed for cosmetic reasons, such as if it is particularly large, prominently, or unsightly, or if it is causing a nuisance (regularly catching on clothing, for example) or injury (getting nicked when shaving).
Moles can also be removed for health reasons, such as in cases of melanoma or other dysplasia (the presence of abnormal cells).
UV light from sun rays (& tanning beds) can make moles more susceptible to cancerous changes. It is always advised that people who have a high mole count (which usually goes hand-in-h& with fair skin) should carefully monitor their sun exposure, limiting time out in the middle of the day on a sunny day, & wearing high-factor sunscreen.
A mole is an area of skin pigmentation, flat or raised, & with a smooth or rough surface. They can be dark or light brown, & are more common in people with fair skin. Most moles are present from birth & completely harmless. New moles or changes to existing moles should always be reported to a doctor for examination, as they can indicate melanoma (an aggressive type of skin cancer).
It is important to be aware of changes to your moles, & to monitor your skin for the appearance of new moles. In general, it is recommended that you give yourself a skin check every couple of months to ensure that there are no changes to existing moles or new moles.
Things to be on the lookout for include changes in colour or size, uneven edges, redness, inflammation, & bleeding. When examining existing moles, a helpful way to remember the signs to look for is to use the ABCDE method:
A for asymmetry (one half of the mole is larger or a different shape to the other)
B for border irregularity
C for colour
D for diameter
E for elevation or enlargement.
If you notice any changes to your moles that correspond with these guidelines, please come to see a dermatologist for a skin check as soon as possible.
Other warning signs relating to changes on the skin include any kind of sore that doesn’t heal, a spreading of the pigment of a mole outside of its border into the surrounding skin, redness or swelling around the mole border, itching, tenderness, soreness or pain at the site of the mole, or changes in the surface of the mole such as how rough or smooth it is, & whether it is scaling, oozing, or bleeding.
Irregular moles can indicate the early stages of a melanoma, a type of skin cancer which can grow very quickly. This condition is much easier to treat in its early stages, so if you see something unusual, do not hesitate to come in. It can be difficult even for doctors to know the difference between an ordinary mole & a mole that needs treatment or biopsy, so your best & safest option is to see a dermatologist.