Guide To Prevention And Treatment Options For Moles

Moles are commonly occurring growths on the skin. Almost everyone has at least one somewhere on their body. In fact, the majority of individuals have anywhere from ten to forty moles on their bodies at any given time. Many moles are harmless and should not cause any worry. Individuals do not need to remove moles unless they are bothersome. However, if they have an issue with the effect a mole has on their appearance, or it is causing skin irritation when it rubs along clothes, there are options to remove it. A dermatologist should examine moles if they change over time. A mole that changes in shape, size, or color could indicate skin cancer.

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As mentioned, many patients do not need moles treatment. However, sometimes they may want to cover up moles or remove them for cosmetic reasons. This is where individuals must consult a dermatologist for options, as home remedies for moles can be unsafe or ineffective. There are quite a few possible options, including simple surgeries or cryotherapy for moles. Of course, it can also help to prevent moles from forming as well. Patients should consider all options and then discuss them with their doctor.

Cover Up With Makeup

Moles often add character to an individual's body or face. However, if their appearance bothers them, one option individuals have is to cover up with makeup. Individuals may not be able to hide the mole entirely, particularly if it is raised or very dark. However, there are some methods to help camouflage it. Individuals will need to find a concealer and color corrector that matches their skin tone. Experts recommend finding color correcting concealers with purple, yellow, or green tones. These tones help neutralize the difference in color between the mole and the individual's skin, which allows the mole to be erased when individuals put skin-tone makeup over it. 

After individuals have found a color corrector that works, they will apply their regular concealer over the mole. When picking a concealer, experts recommend individuals use a shade lighter than their actual skin tone. If individuals cannot find a concealer that blends well enough or is thick enough to cover the mole, they may want to invest in some tattoo concealer. This type of concealer is specifically made to conceal dark marks.

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Shave Excision

Shave excision is a surgical procedure with a sharp razor used to remove growths on the skin. In addition to removing moles, doctors can use this procedure to remove tumors and lesions. If scarring is a concern, the doctor may also feather the edges of the excision site using an electrode. This helps make any scarring less noticeable because the scar will blend better into the skin. If the mole has changed or caused any concerns, the doctor may send it to a lab to be analyzed. A lab analysis will indicate whether the cells are cancerous or not. 

Shave excisions do not tend to have very noticeable scars, and they are less invasive than other surgical procedures. There are no stitches or sutures required after the procedure. Patients typically only need local anesthesia, which is administered to the mole and surrounding area. The growth will be removed using several horizontal cuts of the razor, and there may be some electrosurgical feathering afterward.

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Excisional Surgery

Other kinds of excisional surgery besides shave excision may also be performed. Of course, this depends on the location of the mole and the patient's concerns. Another type of excision surgery is a full-thickness skin excision, which is significantly more invasive and required sutures. This technique is used in cases where the skin lesion or mole is located in deeper skin tissues. In these cases, the doctor needs to cut to the fatty layer beneath the skin. If the doctor is concerned the lesion might be cancerous, they may remove a small amount of healthy tissue surrounding the mole to make sure that all potentially cancerous cells have been eliminated. 

Full-thickness excision is more commonly done in cases where skin cancer is a concern. It is rarely the first option for cases of cosmetic concern, because it tends to produce more serious scarring than shave excision. If individuals have a mole above their skin, the doctor may use an excisional surgery called a simple scissor excision. During this procedure, small scissors are used to cut underneath and around the mole to remove it.

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Biopsy

If a mole has changed in shape, size, or color, individuals should talk to a doctor. The doctor may have concerns regarding the potential for cancer. They may do a skin biopsy when deciding whether full removal is the best treatment option. During a skin biopsy, there are skin samples or cells removed from the body's surface. The goal is to get a sample large enough to be analyzed in a lab. There are three types of biopsies used, one of which is called a shave biopsy. Like a shave excision, this procedure uses a razor to remove a small portion of the mole. A punch biopsy is done by using a circular tool that removes a section of the mole and some of the layers underneath, including the epidermis, dermis, and fatty layer. An excisional biopsy is performed when the doctor removes the entire mole and some healthy tissue around it, then sends that to be analyzed in a lab.

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What Treatments Do Not Work

Many individuals want to remove their moles at home, and some creams and ointments claim to remove moles. However, most of these do not have any significant research backing up their claims. On top of that, some of the at-home treatments recommended can be dangerous. Another reason not to remove moles at home is because individuals will not know if the mole is cancerous. If individuals do want to do at-home removal, they should always consult a doctor about the best options. Some unproven at-home methods for removing moles include burning them using apple cider vinegar, applying straight iodine that kills the cells inside the mole, cutting the mole off using a razor, or taping garlic over the mole so it breaks down from the inside. None of these have been proven effective. Home mixtures and remedies like banana peels and essential oils also have not been proven effective at treating moles.

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Cryotherapy

Some individuals may receive cryotherapy to treat their mole. This is a non-invasive procedure. A dermatologist will use liquid nitrogen to freeze the mole and destroy it. They will often do this for precancerous moles as well as other skin lesions. The liquid nitrogen used in cryotherapy is what allows the dermatologist to target the correct skin cells. Most patients will find that the treated area will blister and scab after their cryotherapy procedure. Patients should heal from cryotherapy in approximately three to six weeks. Cryotherapy is effective and affordable. It does not tend to cause significant pain, and it carries a low risk of infection.

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Check Moles Regularly

It is vital for individuals to check their moles regularly. As mentioned previously, the majority of moles do not require any treatment as they will not cause problems. However, individuals need to know about all of the moles that they have, including being familiar with their appearance. This is how individuals will be able to identify abnormal moles. Elements they should look out for include an asymmetrical shape to the mole, issues with the border, bizarre colors, larger moles, and any moles that change. In addition to checking their moles regularly themselves, individuals should also have a regular exam with their doctor or dermatologist. In most cases, once a year is sufficient.

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Wear Sunscreen

The best way to prevent moles from forming is to wear sunscreen. Sunscreen is especially important to prevent moles from becoming cancerous. Individuals should apply sunscreen every day, even in the winter. The sunscreen should be broad-spectrum and have a sun protective factor (SPF) or at least thirty, though higher is excellent. In addition to wearing sunscreen daily, individuals should reapply the sunscreen approximately every two hours if they are spending time outdoors. This ensures that the protection will be effective throughout the entire day and not run out. Sunscreen is an individual’s best defense at preventing skin cancer. One major sign of skin cancer, of course, is the development of abnormal moles.

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