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Moles and skin changes – reason for fear or is it normal to have them?

Pigment skin changes can take various forms – from harmless pigmentations and moles, to malignant melanoma and cancer. It is therefore important to get information about potential risks in advance and be sure to contact an expert if you notice anything unusual.

It is known that the appearance of moles, pigmentation and skin tumors is most affected by exposure to the sun and other forms of radiation, but also the genetic factor. Depending on the individual case, these changes can be in the form of:

Here you’ll learn about three most common types of benign skin changes which you shouldn’t worry about, but they need to be recognized and regularly monitored. We use dermoscopy to check moles, seborrheic keratosis and angiomas, even when they are not a health issue and you can quickly and painlessly remove them from esthetic reasons.

You can find out more about how you can recognize skin cancer and what to do in that case by clicking on “The most common types of skin cancer and how to treat them”.

Moles

Moles are completely normal, and each of us have them to some extent. These are benign changes on the skin and their color may vary from pink, through light-brown, to dark-brown. They can be smooth along the surface of the skin or slightly raised, and are usually rounded.

Although is impossible to completely avoid their occurrence, you’ll have fewer moles if you avoid solariums and sun exposure between 12 and 16, and if you use sunscreen with SPF factor higher than 30 whenever you are exposed to the sun.

Moles are basically harmless changes, but in rare cases they can become malign. It is necessary to control them, since noticing changes is an important step in timely diagnosis of malign melanoma. It is therefore recommended to perform self-examination of skin, but also to take regular checkup by a professional at least once a year.

Here at BT Aesthetic Surgery Center we examine moles by dermoscopy, and if necessary or patient wants to do it, we remove them surgically – excision in local anesthesia by applying minimal cut. We remove moles both for health and aesthetic reasons.

Self-examination of moles

At least once a month after taking a shower, you can examine your skin. Here are some things you should pay attention to:

  • Asymmetry – Most normal moles are symmetrical, which means that both halves are the same. Imagine a line in the middle of the mole and if both halves are not the same, consult a dermatologist.
  • Borders– In case of irregular or notched borders of a mole, visit a doctor because melanoma often has different borders.
  • Color –Color of a normal mole is the same throughout the mole. If your mole has different colors (pink, black, brown), it turned lighter or darker in some parts, visit a doctor.
  • Diameter– Benign moles are rarely bigger than 6 millimeter in diameter. If you notice that they are bigger, visit a dermatologist.
  • Surface– If one part of the mole started rising, see a doctor. In case of melanoma one part of mole often rises above the skin and it happens very quickly. Any changes in surface level, color, size and diameter have to be checked.

The most common place where melanoma occurs in men is back, and lower legs in women. Also, look for moles in all the hidden places of the body: neck, feet, crotch, between the toes, behind the knees, ears … If you notice any change, take a picture of it and check if something has changed in the next two weeks. It is especially important to perform frequent self-examination if you are a teenager, pregnant, or you are going through a menopause, or during those periods of life when your hormones have a greater impact on the condition of your body.

Seborrheic keratosis

Seborrheic keratosis are benign tumors of the surface skin layer, most commonly dark brown. They are rough when you touch them, and usually look like a dried crust attached to the skin.

The cause of these benign changes is usually excessive skin damage from the sun. They mostly occur in elderly people where the effects of solar radiation accumulated over the years, although due to excessive sunbathing and excessive use of the solarium, an increasing number these changes can be found on the skin of young people.

How to recognize seborrheic keratosis:

  • They are clearly separated from surrounding tissue
  • Brown to black
  • They are raised, as if they were glued to the skin
  • They are soft and crumbling
  • Often they have darker “bumps”
  • They may partially “crumble up “, particularly after bathing.

Example of seborrheic keratosis

They can appear on any part of the body except on the palms, feet and mucous membranes. They appear individually in the form of elevated lumps with dried surfaces or in groups when they can be extremely numerous and cover huge parts of the skin, which makes a significant aesthetic problem for the patients.

It often causes itching and discomfort, and we can often hurt them in contact with clothes. If they are not removed, they tend to grow, expand and group into larger areas. Another risk is that large groups of seborrheic keratosis mask the surrounding moles, which may develop certain changes that need to be examined.

Because of all above mentioned, it is recommended to remove seborrheic keratosis as soon as possible. Diagnosis is usually made by a simple clinical examination, but every removal of skin changes requires a dermoscopy to make sure that seborrheic keratosis is what we actually remove.

After diagnosis, if seborrheic keratosis are small, most efficiently we treat them with radio waves, while major changes are successfully surgically eliminated.

Angiomas

If you notice a red dot on your skin, do not worry. It’s most likely an angioma – a small benign tumor that consists of blood vessels and is completely harmless.

The cause of the development of angiomas is unknown. They occur gradually in otherwise healthy people, most often after age 30 or later. Angiomas have been observed in a large number in diabetic patients, as well as during pregnancy, with partial withdrawal after delivery. It is believed that the genetic factor plays a major role in their development.

Example of cherry angioma

Although they are harmless, they can be an aesthetic problem – especially if they appear on the face. If they are larger in size and are exposed to irritation or injury, they may bleed, although this bleeding can be stopped quickly and easily.

They are diagnosed by clinical examination and dermoscopy, after which, if the patient so wishes, they are removed by laser, radio wave therapy or surgical excision.

The only known preventive measure is adequate protection from the sun, but it will not in all cases solve the problem of the development of new angioma in people with genetic predisposition.