Skin growths like moles, warts, and skin tags are often benign — but it’s important to remember that those growths may also be a sign of skin cancer or other serious skin problems. At Dorset Street Dermatology, in South Burlington, Vermont, Mitchell Schwartz, MD, Wendy Shedd, PA-C, Kara Rozendaal, PA-C and the team offer diagnosis and removal for moles. They also treat skin cancer. Call the office or book your appointment online now.
There are two main categories of moles:
A common mole, or nevus, is small — usually smaller than a pencil eraser — and typically brown, tan, or pink. This type of mole is generally round or oval, and it has a well-defined edge.
A dysplastic nevus is bigger than a common mole. It usually has an irregular shape and lacks a defined border. Dysplastic nevi may be pink, tan, brown, or a combination of two or more colors. If you have a large number of dysplastic nevi, you have an increased risk of melanoma, the most serious kind of skin cancer.
While most dysplastic nevi don't turn into melanoma, it's still important to monitor all moles closely and see the Dorset Street Dermatology team if you suddenly develop new moles or notice changes in your moles.
Moles occur when melanocytes — the skin cells that make the melanin that colors your skin — clump together to cause a skin growth.
Some babies have moles at birth. But, most moles develop because of ultraviolet radiation exposure from the sun or indoor tanning beds. Genetics may also play a role.
Dorset Street Dermatology recommends annual skin exams, as well as self-screenings on a regular basis as recommended by the team. Because skin cancer can start anywhere, your comprehensive skin exam and cancer screening includes a careful check of all skin surfaces, including your scalp and other areas normally hidden from the sun.
The Dorset Street Dermatology team may recommend mole removal if you have a suspicious mole. Mole removal is a very simple in-office procedure with local anesthesia and no downtime required, so it's often best to be proactive regarding moles. After mole removal, a laboratory examines it to check for skin cancer cells.
The team may recommend monitoring some common moles rather than removing them. If a mole suddenly grows larger, takes on multiple colors, develops irregular borders, bleeds, itches, or takes on any other new characteristics, it’s important to schedule a skin check.
Another reason that you might want mole removal is cosmetic concerns. The team can also remove other growths, including warts and skin tags, during an in-office procedure.
Protecting your skin is important in deterring new mole growth and also skin cancer. The Dorset Street Dermatology team can recommend high-quality skin care options, including sun protection, from Skinceuticals® and Obagi®.
If you need help with moles, warts, skin tags, or other growths, call the medical dermatology team at Dorset Street Dermatology or schedule an appointment online now.