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What is a Mole?

Everyone has a mole somewhere. So, just what is a mole? They can occur on every part of the body, but most often show up on parts exposed to the sun. A mole is a cluster or collection of melanocyte cells. These cells are part of the process that gives the skin its color. When there’s just one mole, its referred to as a nevus, but more than one mole has the plural scientific name of nevi. Many people are born with moles. These congenital nevi don’t develop color until they receive sun exposure.

Moles come in a variety of sizes, colors and shapes. Most moles are brown or black, but they can be blue, translucent, red or flesh toned. Some moles are flat to the skin and others form a bulb of flesh on the surface of the skin. Most of the time, moles appear in the first twenty to thirty years of life. Your age, race, and genetics are all factors in the amount of moles and types of moles that you have. Environment also plays a factor in the development of the mole. Sun exposure is one environmental factor that plays a role in the development of moles.

When you ask, “What is a mole?”, you’ll receive a lot of different bits of information and different names for the same mole. If you classify a mole by where it grows, you have one name for it. Some grow on the outer layer of skin. Remember that nevus is the scientific name for a mole. A junctional nevus grows from cells in the epidermis, the outer layers of skin. This type of mole is flat and appears blackish brown. An intradermal nevus stays in the dermis, inner layer of skin. This mole is a variety of colors from brown to flesh tone. They are soft and raised. Compound nevi are mixtures of the two areas of skin and fit right in the middle. They’re height is more than a junctional and less than an intradermal.

Since one type of mole resembles skin cancer, it gets its name from the color. This is the blue nevus. The coloring is a blue-black and it’s dome shaped. People that find this type of mole often run to the doctor because it looks a great deal like skin cancer.

One final way of classifying the mole or nevus, is by the regularities. Moles that don’t resemble normal symmetrical moles are called atypical or dysplastic moles. These moles sometimes become cancerous, and often resemble melanoma. You can remember the description if you know you’re ABC’s. A is for asymmetry, one side is not a duplicate of the other. B is for irregular borders, they tend to be uneven and jagged. C is the color, it’s not uniform throughout. D stands for diameter, which is bigger than most and greater than 6mm.

Most moles are harmless, but if you notice a new mole, see signs of bleeding or change in an old mole, immediately go to your doctor. Melanoma is easier to cure when you first find it. Your mole may not be cancerous but it’s always best to be safe.


Source by Matt Petigrew


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