Why a mole may need to be removed
You probably have more than one on your face and body. Most people have 10 to 40 moles removal somewhere on their skin, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Moles are common skin growths. If a mole is easy to see, it’s probably benign (not dangerous), but if a mole is hard to see or has changed in size or shape, it’s changing for a reason: it needs to be checked out.
While most moles are harmless, and skin cancer is rare, some types of moles can be a cause for concern. If a mole seems cancerous or unusual, then you should see your doctor get it checked out. While this may be scary at first, several types of treatment available can help prevent malignant growths and save lives.
How do I find out if a mole is cancerous?
As with most medical diagnoses, the best way to know if a mole is cancerous is to see a dermatologist for an annual skin cancer screening. If you have a history of skin cancer, your dermatologist may recommend screening more often.
Meanwhile, you should schedule a checkup with your dermatologist if you notice any moles that have changed in size, color, and/or shape. This could be a sign that it may be time to have it removed.
- are asymmetrical
- have irregular borders
- are not uniform in color
- have a diameter that’s larger than a pencil eraser
- are evolving or changing in size, shape, or color
How is it done?
A dermatologist can typically remove a mole during a routine office visit. Sometimes a follow-up visit is necessary to complete a mole removal. The goal of mole removal is to get rid of any unwanted moles and prevent future growth.
The main procedures for mole removal:
Freezing- This procedure uses a small amount of liquid nitrogen to remove a noncancerous mole. The mole removal process is simple and quick with almost no side effects. The entire procedure can be done under local or general anesthesia, depending upon the mole size.
Burning- This procedure uses an electric current to burn off the upper layers of a noncancerous mole. It may take more than one session to complete the mole removal.
Shaving– This procedure involves using a surgical blade to shave the mole off the skin’s surface. It may be painful, but it is effective, as it removes all traces of the mole and leaves minimal scarring or discoloration.
Are there effective ways to remove moles at home?
There are many ways to remove moles, but some methods are more effective than others. For example, traditional warts are usually harmless and should just be rubbed off. Scars and birthmarks don’t require medical attention. However, experts do not recommend using home remedies for removing moles unless you have a doctor’s approval.
Some of these unproven methods include:
- burning the mole off with apple cider vinegar
- taping garlic to the mole to break it down from the inside
- applying iodine to the mole to kill the cells inside
- cutting off the mole with scissors or a razor blade
There are so many alternatives for people to conceal moles or other skin blemishes. While most of these options involve surgery and/or medications, some are safer than others. When you’re self-conscious about your mole and it’s been growing for a long time, it’s time to consider covering the mole up with makeup.
Why home removal is harmful
When it comes to home mole removal, you might be tempted to try one of these techniques. Home remedies sound pretty easy and convenient. You may even have a friend who swears by the power of coconut oil. But there’s no evidence that home treatments for mole removal work well, and some of them could even be dangerous.
Removing moles can be a messy and dangerous process. You need to use something sharp enough to cut off the mole without damaging any surrounding tissue or making a permanent cut on your skin. If you just wish to trim the mole, your doctor may suggest using scissors or a razor blade instead.
When to see a doctor
Doctors know that when a mole changes — maybe it’s darker or appears to be growing — you should schedule a biopsy right away. The doctor will remove the sample and test it under a microscope to see if it is cancerous.
If you have a mole that bothers you, see your dermatologist. He or she can remove it and recommend other ways to minimize the appearance of moles that don’t bother you. And when in doubt about a new mole, call your doctor right away.
If your mole is not changing and bothering you, then the best thing to do is to leave it alone. If you feel like your clothes are irritating the mole, then see a dermatologist remove it safely.
A mole has been present on your skin for years and it hasn’t changed much, but you notice it is changing in size and or color. You also notice that it is becoming more raised or thicker. This could be a sign of skin cancer and warrants an appointment with your dermatologist.
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