Moles

Learn about moles and how Knoxville Institute of Dermatology can help you.

Moles 2017-11-07T21:34:01+00:00

Project Description

Very few moles actually require medical treatment, but a mole that is evolving in shape, size, texture or color could be indicative of a cancerous growth. The providers at Knoxville Institute of Dermatology are experts in assessing all types of moles. If you have a mole that displays any of these type of changes contact our office today for an evaluation.

What is a mole?

A mole is a common benign skin lesion due to a local proliferation of pigment cells (melanocytes). It is more correctly called a melanocytic nevus, and is sometimes also called a naevocytic nevus. A brown or black mole contains the pigment melanin, so may also be called a pigmented nevus. A mole can be present at birth (congenital nevus) or appear later (acquired nevus). There are various kinds of congenital and acquired nevi.

Who gets moles?

Almost everyone has at least one mole.

  • About 1% of individuals are born with one or more congenital melanocytic nevi. This is usually sporadic, with rare instances of familial congenital nevi.
  • Fair-skinned people tend to have more moles than darker skinned people.
  • Moles that appear during childhood (aged 2 to 10 years) tend to be the most prominent and persistent moles throughout life.

What causes moles?

Although the exact reason for local proliferation of nevus cells is unknown, it is clear that the number of moles a person has depends on genetic factors, on sun exposure, and on immune status.

  • People with many moles tend to have family members that also have many moles, and their moles may have a similar appearance.
  • New melanocytic nevi may erupt following the use of BRAF inhibitor drugs (vemurafenib, dabrafenib).
  • Immunosuppressive treatment leads to an increase in numbers of nevi.

What are the clinical features of moles?

Moles vary widely in clinical, dermatoscopic and histological appearance.

  • They may arise on any part of the body.
  • Moles differ in appearance depending on the body site of origin.
  • They may be flat or protruding.
  • They vary in color from pink or flesh tones to dark brown, steel blue, or black.
  • Light skinned individuals tend to have light-colored moles and dark skinned individuals tend to have dark brown or black moles.
  • Although mostly round or oval in shape, moles are sometimes unusual shapes.
  • They range in size from a couple of millimeters to several centimeters in diameter.

What are the complications of moles?

People worry about moles because they have heard about melanoma, a malignant proliferation of melanocytes that is the most common reason for death from skin cancer.

  • At first, melanoma may look similar to a harmless mole, but in time it becomes more disordered in structure and tends to enlarge.
  • People with a greater number of moles have a higher risk of developing melanoma than those with few moles, especially if they have over 100 of them.

Moles sometimes change for other reasons than melanoma, for example following sun exposure or during pregnancy. They can enlarge, regress or involute (disappear).

  • A Meyerson nevus is itchy and dry because it is surrounded by eczema.
  • A Sutton or halo nevus is surrounded by a white patch, and fades away over several years
  • A recurrent nevus is one that appears in a scar following surgical removal of a mole — this may have an odd shape.

How is a mole diagnosed?

Moles are usually diagnosed clinically by their typical appearance. If there is any doubt about the diagnosis, an expert may be consulted in person or with the help of clinical and dermatoscopic images. This is especially important if:

  • A mole changes size, shape, structure or color
  • A new mole develops in adult life (> 40 years)
  • It appears different from the person’s other moles (a so-called ugly duckling)
  • It has ABCD characteristics (Asymmetry, Border irregularity, Color variation, Diameter > 6 mm)
  • It is bleeding, crusted or itchy

Most skin lesions with these characteristics are actually harmless when evaluated by an expert using dermatoscopy. Short-term digital dermatoscopic imaging may be used in equivocal flat lesions to check for change over time.

Nevi that remain suspicious for melanoma are excised for histopathology (diagnostic biopsy). Partial biopsy is not recommended, as it may miss an area of cancerous change.

What is the treatment for moles?

Most moles are harmless and can be safely left alone. Moles may be removed in the following circumstances:

  • To exclude cancer
  • The mole is a nuisance: perhaps irritated by clothing, comb or razor
  • Cosmetic reasons: the mole is unsightly

Surgical techniques include:

  • Excision biopsy of flat or suspicious mole
  • Shave biopsy of protruding mole

WHAT OUR PATIENTS SAY

I really was impressed with Dr. Wright. He is extremely knowledgeable and I really recommend him as a fine Dermatologist.

Ronna P.

Dr. Rahman is wonderful. She is very professional, knowledgeable and kind. She takes time to listen. She handled my problem right away. I had been very concerned about it.

Donna B.

What a great experience! I was greeted promptly and courteously by the front desk staff. I was seen almost immediately and treated with care and concern by both Devon and Dr. Wright. I will certainly make KID my home for dermatology and would highly recommend them to everyone.

Penny F.

Dr. Adam Wright took his time to explain the procedure, perform the surgery, and teach how to care for wound afterwards. I have found few physicians take such time with their patients and I am a registered nurse.

Laurie J.

I was very pleased with the efficiency of the staff who handed me some forms, then directed me upstairs where I barely sat down before I was escorted to the exam room. Dr. Wright came in a few minutes later and got down to business in a most pleasant and professional manner. Thank you.

Jerome R.

I had a recurring dermatological condition for several and a series of dermatologists as a result. And yet until I met Dr. Wright, my condition remained undiagnosed and it turned out to be potentially life-threatening. I am so fortunate to have found him and I would not go to anyone else and recommend him often.

Donald B.

Knox Institute of Dermatology is the best! Dr. Adam Wright has always been very courteous and knowledgeable of my care.

Robin P.

Lindsey Best, NP is a great listener and she is sensitive to my daughter’s questions and concerns. Her acne is getting better! Thank you!

Campbell T.

I saw the NP. She was personable, informative and skilled in taking care of my problem. I recommend her and will ask for her if I have need to go again.

Martha M.

Awesome doctor, awesome staff. Definitely would recommend this office to all my friends. Also, my husband is a patient and my daughters will have appointments soon.

Cynthia P.

Dr. Rahman and her nurse were very friendly, professional, and spent an appropriate amount of time with me. I have some benign lesions that I want to have removed at some time in the future and I will return to Knox Institute of Dermatology.

Patricia G.

We had a great experience with Dr Anderson, she was great with my 10 year old son, minimal wait times. Lovely office and staff!

Ian S.

Dr. Elizabeth Anderson is very thorough, knowledgeable, listens, explains the best treatments, and gives options for care.

Mark S.

I had an overall satisfying experience as usual. Short wait time, attractive and clean facilities, courteous and professional yet welcoming staff. Dr. Rahman was thorough and treatment options were well explained.

Larry Troy M.

Dr. Anderson has been my dermatologist for several years, and I continue to be impressed with her dedication, caring attitude, and professionalism. The staff are always friendly and helpful.

M Carol S.

I was called back promptly. Dr. Rahman was careful to make sure I was not experiencing any pain during the procedure.. The staff was friendly, yet very professional; clearly describing follow-up procedures I needed to perform. My insurance initially rejected a prescribed mediation, but the staff worked tirelessly and was successful in getting them to reverse their decision.

Susan P.

Friendly and excellent service! Love the staff, always up beat and happy. Comfortable with staff knowledge and skills. Just a great experience if there is such a thing when visiting a Dr.

Gary C.

Dr. Wright was very caring, answered questions in a way I could understand, listened to what I had to say. I especially appreciate that he doesn’t prescribe medications without careful thought and trying alternatives first.

Jane R.

Dr. Anderson is a knowledgeable, compassionate, and caring doctor. Her nurse, Lori, was equally sensitive to my concerns and she showed the utmost respect and dignity during my medical treatment.

Terrissa D.

They have a very nice and knowledgeable staff. I didn’t have to wait long, and they did a great job of explaining the process and options to me. I highly recommend this practice!

Aaron H.

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