Before we look at what causes moles, let’s look at what skin moles actually are.
Skin moles are small brown or black growths that appear on your face and body. Also known as “nevi,” skin moles develop as single growths or in groups from pigment-producing skin cells known as melanocytes.
They range from dot-sized to 1 inch in diameter and can have smooth, rough or flat surface. Many moles may first appear as red and then darken in color, although some become yellowish-brown or flesh-toned.
Over time, a hair or two can sprout from a skin mole’s surface. Many people tend to develop moles before age 20, although the most common growth period occurs between the ages of 10-40.
With all that said, let’s look at what causes moles and what you can do about them.
What causes moles?
So what causes moles? Skin moles are caused when your skin’s pigment cells develop into clusters instead of growing in a naturally dispersed pattern across your skin.
And since these common growths are especially sensitive to changes in hormone levels, you may experience an increase in the number of moles or see changes in existing ones as a teenager or while you’re pregnant.
You could also have inherited a tendency toward mole growth, particularly if your family has a history of atypical, or irregular moles.
Some dermatologists and other skin experts believe prolonged exposure to the sun’s UV rays may increase your chance of developing a skin mole, but who knows? The only way you can find out is to observe your body and see if it is true.
It might be a pain to try to learn the location of all your skin moles, but if really want to know if they change, you’ll do it ;).
Are they dangerous?
Skin moles are not always the most desirable thing to have on your body, but most of them are harmless.
Hereditary atypical moles, on the other hand, appear irregular in their size, shape, or color. They are much more likely to grow into a melanoma or skin cancer.
If you have regular skin moles and start seeing changes in them, it could be a warning sign, and you should get in contact with your doctor if it continues or gets worse.
Dermatologists recommend using the following “ABCDE” checklist to examine your moles for skin cancer:
- Asymmetry—the halves of your mole do not match.
- Border—your mole has irregular, blurry, or ragged edges.
- Color—your mole displays different colors, including brown, black, blue, tan, red, or white.
- Diameter—your mole is larger than a pencil eraser.
- Elevation—your mole appears raised or elevated from the rest of your skin.
If you detect any of the above symptoms, you should contact a doctor immediately to schedule a complete exam.
Are they preventable?
While atypical moles are hereditary, a significant number of skin experts believe the sun’s UV radiation is an important factor in the growth of regular moles.
I don’t know if I completely agree with them, although excessive time in the sun might cause trouble. You shouldn’t be burning your skin everyday in the sun, that’s not good!
In order to reduce your chances of developing these growths and cancerous melanoma, dermatologists recommend reducing your skin’s exposure to direct sunlight.
If you do plan on spending time outdoors, you’re advised to wear a sunblock or sunscreen product that has an SPF (sun protection factor) rating of at least 15 (make sure your sunscreen is natural and without toxic chemicals!).
Getting rid of moles: is it possible?
You have a few options when it comes to removing your moles. In some cases, they may disappear on their own. They can also be cut off by your doctor.
This may require a few small stitches, since the surrounding skin will generally need to be removed along with the growth. Your doctor may also freeze your mole with liquid nitrogen and then shave it from your skin using a scalpel. Sounds nice doesn’t it? 😉
Other medical methods involve the use of lasers or electricity to burn the mole from your skin.
If you’re seeking a natural alternative to surgical procedures, there are a few brands of homeopathic and organic topical products available to help remove your moles. I haven’t tried them so I will not be recommending any.
If I try them in the future and they work, you’ll hear about it. That’s all I have for you today, hopefully this post answered your question on what causes moles and then some!