It must be a little disconcerting for someone to look in the mirror one day and see a mole that wasn’t there before. Moles have gone from objects of superstition and derision, to being called beauty marks adorning the faces of some of the world’s biggest celebrities.
On the fun side, depending on where on the face a mole is, it indicates various things. For example, one old wives tale says that a mole below the eye indicates a life full of sorrow. A mole on the lip indicates someone who loves life and laughs a lot. On the other hand, moles on the face can also mean health issues, such as skin cancer.
If you suddenly discover a mole on your face, this is not necessarily a reason for concern. They are classified as skin lesions, and in the majority of cases they are benign. They tend to be brown or black, and generally become visible early in life, although some persons get them as they become older. Moles are basically skin cells that proliferate in a small area instead of spreading out the way they are supposed to.
There are two types of moles, namely congenital nevi and dysplastic nevi. Congenital nevi refer to moles that are present at birth. They are considered to be a risk factor for eventually developing skin cancer. They are present in 1 – 2% of newborns, and so far no racial factor has been identified.
Dysplastic nevi tend to be bigger, and may sometimes have an uneven shape. They are usually benign, but they do indicate a higher risk of developing melanoma, whether single or multiple. As a general rule, the higher the number of moles on the face, the greater the risk of getting skin cancer.
Checking for potential signs of cancer
The simple fact is, most moles on the face are no reason for concern. Nonetheless, it is advisable to pay attention to existing moles and make note of any changes in their size or color. Other causes for concern include moles that appear after age 20, and bleeding or itchy moles. If you notice any of these signs, consult a dermatologist to have them checked. Areas of your body that are usually exposed to sunlight should be examined periodically for moles.
There is also what is known as the ABCs of mole checking. This involves certain checkpoints for recognizing potential problem moles. These are:
• Asymmetry: This is where one half of the mole is very different from the other.
• Border: The edges of the mole should be checked for irregularity. If the edges are jagged, this may be cause for concern
• Color: any change in the color of a mole could be a warning sign of cancer. A mole with more than one color may be cause for concern as well.
• Diameter: Any mole bigger than a pencil eraser should be considered a potential danger.
• Elevation: Moles that are raised, or have a portion that is raised, warrant a visit to a dermatologist or doctor.
The Treatment of moles
The treatment of mole usually involves removing the entire mole or a portion of it for a biopsy. The removal process is a simple one, and is regarded as a minor procedure. After removing the mole and some of the surrounding skin, the skin is then stitched. The entire mole is generally removed cancer is found or at the request of the patient who want to remove it for aesthetic reasons.
While moles in themselves may not be cause for concern it pays to be aware of changes in any moles on your face, and your skin in general. In a bit of good news, a British study done at King’s College London, linked moles on the skin to an increased ability to combat the signs of aging. That seems like reason enough to be proud of your moles rather than trying to cover them up.
March 16th, 2009
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