Categorized | Acne

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Dysplastic Mole – An Abnormal Looking Mole, But Is It Dangerous?

A dysplastic mole, also known as dysplastic nevi, is a mole that does not look normal. It may have uneven borders that appear to spread or fade into your skin; it may have a mix of different colors; or it could be scaly or bumpy when you run your finger over it.

Having a dysplastic mole is not uncommon and not necessarily dangerous. Dermatologists disagree over whether or not a dysplastic mole is more likely to develop into a dangerous skin cancer called melanoma. However, if you have many dysplastic moles on your body you are in a higher risk category for developing melanomas.

Therefore, you want to learn what to look for to determine if your mole is dangerous or just a harmless abnormally looking mole.

Dysplastic Mole Characteristics

A dysplastic mole can differ from a normal mole in color, shape, surface texture, and possibly size. It is normal for a person to have up to 40 moles on their skin. However, if you have a dysplastic mole issue, you are more likely to notice many moles covering your body, and it would not be unheard of to have 100+ moles.

Location is another consideration when deciding if a dysplastic mole is present. While normal moles can occur anywhere on your body, you are more likely to find them above your waistline on areas that are exposed to the sun. You would not expect to see normal moles on your buttocks, breasts, or even your scalp, so you should have these moles checked.

A dysplastic mole is most commonly found on your back and other highly sun-exposed skin surfaces. These abnormal moles can also occur below your waistline such as on your buttocks or leg as well as above your waist on your breasts and scalp.

Normal moles are evenly colored and seen as tan or brown spots. The moles on a normal person all look somewhat similar. It is normal to have about 40 moles on your body.

A close look shows that a normal mole is round or a bit oval, but has a distinct border. Normal moles can be flat and remain flat or they can raise overtime and even form a small, smooth bump. They are typically smaller than a pencil eraser (less than 5 millimeters in diameter).

A dysplastic mole tends to have an assortment of colors. You may notice tans, browns, reds, and pinks mixed within one mole or in moles near each other. You may have just a couple of dysplastic moles or you may have a couple of hundred on your body.

You can also distinguish a dysplastic mole from a normal mole by its borders. A dysplastic mole has abnormal borders that seem to be notched. Also, the dysplastic mole’s border is not sharp, but instead appears to be fading into the skin.

Another distinguishing characteristic of a dysplastic mole can be its texture. You can have a dysplastic mole that is smooth, but others can look or feel scaly or rough when you rub your finger across them. They can also grow larger than a pencil eraser; however, keep in mind that an abnormal or cancerous mole can grow as a brand new mole, so if you detect it early, it may appear quite small.

Risk Factors for Dangerous Dysplastic Mole

Are you light skinned and have light hair and eye color to match? Then you must be particularly careful to monitor any abnormal looking mole you find on your skin. I used to joke that I could never get a tan and rather I would go from white to red (sunburn). This wasn’t so funny after I developed a spot of skin cancer in the crease of my inner elbow.

I have all of the risk factors for developing melanoma. Check yourself against this list:

  • Light skin complexion
  • Light colored eyes
  • Light colored hair
  • Freckles
  • Numerous typical and dysplastic mole
  • A personal history of skin cancer
  • A family history of skin cancer
  • Sensitivity to the sun (you flush or get red easily)
  • Skin that does not tan easily
  • A history of repeated sunburns

Having all or some of these risk factors does not mean that you will develop skin cancer, or that your abnormal mole will turn cancerous. But, having these risk factors should make you more vigilant and you should be monitoring your skin monthly.

How to Monitor a Dysplastic Mole and Your Skin

Because skin cancer can be a serious and even life-threatening condition, it can be scary to take a look in the mirror and discover an odd looking mole. Early detection is key to finding a potentially dangerous dysplastic mole or new mole on your skin.

To monitor your skin you should:

  • Perform monthly home skin exams. Use a strong light so your moles are easy to see. If you are performing the exam on yourself, stand in front of a full mirror while holding a small hand mirror and look at every inch of your body including your scalp, between your toes, and the bottom of your feet.
  • If you notice a dysplastic mole or anything suspicious, err on the side of caution and schedule an appointment with a dermatologist or a doctor who often deals with skin lesions.
  • If you do not have a suspicious mole but you have any of the risk factors for dysplastic mole, schedule an annual skin screening appointment with a dermatologist.

There is a mnemonic that may help you determine if a mole is dangerous. It is called the ABCDE rule, and while it has some flaws that I will point out for you, it is still useful as an early monitoring tool.

A = Asymmetrical mole

B = Borders are notched or irregular

C = Color can be a mix of tan, brown, red, and pink

D = Diameter of a dysplastic mole or melanoma may be large

E = Evolution. A mole that changes or newly appears on an adult can be a dangerous sign.

Obviously this mnemonic is not a perfect system and some dangerous moles may not hold up to this test. For instance, a melanoma may start as a new growth, therefore, if you detect it in its early stages, it will not be large, but is dangerous.

Dysplastic Mole – Final Thoughts

You can have one dysplastic mole or many, but this does not mean you have skin cancer. Having said that, if you have a lot of these abnormal moles on your body, your risk of skin cancer increases.

If your doctor checks your moles and confirms that they are harmless, you still may be bothered by their appearance on your skin. Normal moles can be removed and you have options for removal. The main options are surgery, laser surgery, or natural removal. Surgical removal can be faster than natural removal; however, the cost will be much higher and the risk of scarring is greater.

I recommend using natural ingredients to slowly fade the mole. This can actually condition the skin, costs very little, and has very little risk, if any, of scarring.

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