Moles, or nevi in medical terms, are common skin conditions formed when skin cells grow in clusters rather than spreading evenly. Typically, moles are harmless and pose no health risks. However, some moles can develop into cancerous growths, which raises serious concerns and necessitates their removal, along with any cancerous cells.
Distinguishing Between Common and Atypical Moles
As mentioned earlier, most moles are benign. Common moles have a lower likelihood of becoming cancerous, although the risk of cancer increases if you have more than fifty moles on your body.
Common moles can appear flat or slightly raised on the skin’s surface. These moles usually come in tan, brown, skin-toned, blue, red, translucent, or pink hues, and they are smaller than a quarter inch (five millimetres) in diameter. They often have a circular shape with a clear border that sets them apart from the surrounding skin.
Atypical moles also exhibit a flat or raised appearance, but they exceed a quarter inch (six millimetres) in diameter. Their irregular shape causes the border to blend into the natural skin tone around the mole. Atypical moles can display a variety of colours and have surfaces that are smooth, rough, flaky, uneven, or bumpy.
Understanding Itchy Moles and Their Causes
While itchy moles can be unsettling, they are rarely associated with cancer. Itching in moles is often linked to nerve irritation, which can result from various factors. These may include irritation caused by certain skincare products, peeling skin from sunburn, or simply dry skin. However, persistent itching in a mole could also indicate underlying changes that require prompt attention.
Exploring Treatment Options for Itchy Moles
When a mole becomes itchy or undergoes changes in size, color, or shape, seeking advice from a dermatologist, particularly concerning mole removal, is recommended to rule out any potential cancerous developments. If a mole becomes tender, begins to bleed, or induces pain, seeking prompt medical attention becomes imperative.
Identifying Signs of Malignancy in Moles
A malignant mole is one that has developed into cancer. Certain signs can help determine if a mole is malignant, summarised by the ABCDE method:
Asymmetry: One side of the mole differs from the other.
Border: The mole’s border is irregular, ragged, or blurred.
Colour: The mole exhibits multiple distinct colours.
Diameter: The mole exceeds a quarter inch (six millimetres) in diameter.
Evolving: The mole changes in colour, shape, size, or becomes raised above the skin’s surface.
If any of these signs are noticeable during a skin assessment, seeking a dermatologist’s examination is advisable.
Examining Itching and Skin Cancer
Common skin cancers include basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), both of which are treatable. Around forty percent of patients with BCC or SCC have experienced itching, which often subsides after cancer removal. Melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, rarely causes itching. Nevertheless, it is recommended to consult a dermatologist for any changes in your skin or moles to ensure proper care.
When bathing or changing clothes, take an extra minute to examine your moles. If you see one that is changing or you have additional concerns, feel free to contact our London Dermatologists.