Moles are brown or tan spots that show up on the skin. They are extremely common, and most people have at least a few. However, some moles can turn into melanomas which is a serious form of skin cancer. Let’s take a look at the difference between normal and abnormal moles so you can decide if your mole is normal or not.
There are several things to look for when you are trying to determine if your mole is healthy and normal. Normal moles come in several colors, varying from brown, tan, and pink. However, it is important to note that your mole should appear the same color all throughout and should not be a variation of different colors. Here are some other signs that your mole is normal:
- Symmetry: The mole is the same shape all the way around.
- Color: The color is the same all the way through.
- Border: The edges of the mole are distinctive and smooth.
- Size: Usually, normal moles are under 6 mm in size (the size of a pencil eraser), but sometimes healthy moles are a bit larger.
- Flatness: It should be flat and not raised. When you touch it, you should not be able to feel it.
If you can check most of these boxes, then there is less of a chance that your mole is cancerous.
If you have an abnormal mole, there is a chance that it could be melanoma. Melanoma occurs when the cells in your skin that produce pigment become cancerous. Although medical professionals aren’t exactly sure what causes melanomas, they do know that the more you are exposed to ultraviolet radiation, it increases your chance of developing melanoma. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays comes from the sun, as well as tanning beds and lamps.
The ABCDE rule is a simple way for you to check your moles and look for any warning signs.
Healthy moles maintain a circular or symmetrical shape, whereas questionable moles will have an irregular shape. When trying to decide if your mole is asymmetrical, consider if one half does not match the other half in size, shape, color, and thickness.
While a healthy mole has a smooth edge or border, an abnormal one has an irregular shape. This means the mole’s border looks ill-defined, ragged, or notched and could be a sign of melanoma.
Moles should have a uniform color throughout the entire thing. Precancerous and cancerous moles are often multicolored. The colors vary from tan, brown, or black and could contain splotches of white, red, or blue.
Benign moles won’t grow and will stay the same size. However, melanomas will change shape and size. Moles that change shape or are larger than a pencil eraser are a good reason to get them checked out by a doctor.
If your mole is not flat and is raised, this is a sign that it is an abnormal one. Noncancerous moles are flat to the touch.
More Signs of an Abnormal Mole
While the ABCDE rule is a great baseline for checking questionable moles, it is not exhaustive. A few other signs that there is a reason for concern may include:
- Itchiness and/or pain
- A sore that will not heal
- Oozing or bleeding
- The pigment has spread beyond the border of the mole
It is a great idea to keep an eye on any moles to look for changes, but if one seems questionable, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor about it. Removing questionable moles is a simple and quick procedure.
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