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Moles and Growths

Dulles dermatologists have answers to your questions about moles

Nearly everyone has at least a single mole, and ten to 40 is average. Yet there are many misperceptions about moles. Dr. Chaudhry of Dulles Dermatology Associates in Dulles, VA shares this helpful information.

What is a mole?

Melanocytic nevi are spots that occur when melanocytes or pigmented skin cells collect. They are usually brown, but may be skin-colored, reddish, or quite dark. The shape is typically round or oval, with a smooth edge. Moles may be flat, raised, rough, or have hair growth. While most moles are small, size varies. These skin lesions may appear on any part of the body including scalp and beneath nails.

What causes moles?

Congenital moles are present at birth, but most develop and darken from sun exposure. Hormonal changes during puberty and pregnancy are also factors.

How do moles differ from other growths?

Moles are easily misdiagnosed. An experienced, Board-certified dermatologist is best qualified to discern a mole from a freckle, sun spot, skin tag, cyst, seborrheic keratoses, or other growth. This is important because about ten percent of biopsied moles are cancerous.

Should all moles be removed?

Not necessarily, although benign nevi may be removed for cosmetic enhancement. With a baseline examination, annual professional screenings, and monthly self-checks, moles can be evaluated and watched carefully. Our doctors teach you the ABCDEs of skin cancer awareness.

What are options for removal?

  • Surgical excision – The mole is numbed and excised with a scalpel.
  • Shaving or curettage – A special tool is used to gently scrape excess tissue.
  • Cryosurgery – Freezing with a liquid or gaseous chemical.
  • Cauterization – Use of heat.
  • Laser treatment – Laser excision is precise and virtually painless, but it destroys the mole. Thus, laser removal is only an option when biopsy is not necessary.

Call (844) 357-3376 to schedule an appointment and have your questions answered in person.

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