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 was so pleased with everything. Dr. Wright is such a nice person and wonderful doctor. Brittany was so pleasant and friendly. They offer blankets and pillows and make sure throughout the entire procedure that you are comfortable and that you are as pain free as possible. Everything went well and they go out of their way to make it so.
Marianne D.

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.

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.
Dr. Wright listens, answers questions, gives understandable explanations, presents options. I consider him an outstanding physician, and his nurse is also excellent. The use of technology is also very good. BTW, my rating on the facility pertains to the Lenoir City location. I would rate the Knoxville location Excellent.
Jane R.
I tend to avoid doctors if I can. And I have never left a review for any medical person or facility. But Dr. Wright made some uncomfortable symptoms easy to discuss and then was able to offer excellent options for resolving those issues. I would send anyone I care about to see him for any sort of skin-related complaint. He is the best!
Sean M.

This was my first visit with Knoxville Institute of Dermatology, and my first visit with Dr. Wright. Dr. Wright seems like a very knowledgeable, caring doctor, who explains things well, and seems to care very much for his patients. I already have an appointment in a year to see Dr. Wright again for a check up. Since I live in Crossville it is also much more convenient to be able to see him at the Lenoir City office.

Barry S.
Thank you for the convenience of visiting this office in Lenoir City rather than going out of town. I received a thorough examination and treatment. I received reference material about the condition to read at home. Dr. Wright took the time to welcome me back and offer to help anytime. Who does that? I appreciate all of this. I have found myself a new dermatology center!
William W.

July: Wart Awareness Month

July 16th, 2019|0 Comments

WART ARE THOSE?! We are amid the peak season for the spread of non-genital warts (verrucae). In order to raise awareness, the National Verruca Foundation (NVF) has designated July as Wart Awareness Month. Warts are [...]

Welcome Kegan Reilly, PA-C!

June 20th, 2019|0 Comments

Kegan graduated with honors in 2008 from the United States Military Academy at West Point, with his B.S. in Mathematical Sciences. After graduating from West Point, he was commissioned into the United States Army where [...]

Farewell, Dr. Hendrick!

May 30th, 2019|0 Comments

It is with mixed emotions, we announce the departure of Dr. Sophia J. Hendrick. Aside from being East Tennessee's only board-certified pediatric dermatologist, Dr. Hendrick has also become our mentor, family, and friend. We could [...]

Rosacea Awareness Month!

March 29th, 2019|0 Comments

April is Rosacea Awareness Month.  According to the National Rosacea Society, the goal of Rosacea Awareness Month is to spread public education on this disease so that more people who may have rosacea seek medical [...]

Dermatology Is More Than Skin Deep

February 7th, 2019|0 Comments

What You Need To Know About Your Body's Largest Organ Dermatology, the study of diseases of the skin—the human body’s largest organ--is both misunderstood and underrated. Even some physicians in other specialties think it’s “easy,” [...]

MAKE AN APPOINTMENT

We’re excited to work with you, find a solution to your skin care needs and give you the results you deserve. Fill out the form below and someone will contact shortly to schedule your appointment.