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Moles


Overview :

Moles can be round, oval, flat, or raised. They can occur singly or in clusters on any part of the body. Most moles are brown, but colors can range from pinkish flesh tones to yellow, dark blue, or black.

Everyone has at least a few moles. They generally appear by the time a person is 20 and resemble freckles at first. A mole's color and shape don't usually change. Changes in hormone levels that occur during puberty and pregnancy can make moles larger and darker. New moles may also appear during this period.

A mole usually lasts about 50 years before beginning to fade. Some moles disappear completely, and some never lighten at all. Some moles develop stalks that raise them above the skin's surface; these moles eventually drop off.

Types of moles

About 1-3% of all babies have one or more moles when they are born. Moles that are present at birth are called congenital nevi.

Other types of moles include:

  • Junctional moles, which are usually brown and may be flat or slightly raised.
  • Compound moles, which are slightly raised, range in color from tan to dark brown, and involve pigment-producing cells (melanocytes) in both the upper and lower layers of the skin (epidermis and dermis).
  • Dermal moles, which range from flesh-color to brown, are elevated, most common on the upper body, and may contain hairs.
  • Sebaceous moles, which are produced by over-active oil glands and are yellow and rough-textured.
  • Blue moles, which are slightly raised, colored by pigment deep within the skin, and most common on the head, neck, and arms of women.

Most moles are benign, but atypical moles (dysplastic nevi) may develop into malignant melanoma, a potentially fatal form of skin cancer. Atypical moles are usually hereditary. Most are bigger than a pencil eraser, and the shape and pigmentation are irregular.

Congenital nevi are more apt to become cancerous than moles that develop after birth, especially if they are more than eight inches in diameter. Lentigo maligna (melanotic freckle of Hutchinson), most common on the face and after the age of 50, first appears as a flat spot containing two or more shades of tan. It gradually becomes larger and darker. One in three of these moles develop into a form of skin cancer known as lentigo maligna melanoma.




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