Not to Be Confused With Other “Dark Spots”

What causes moles?

Moles are harmless skin growths that may be flat or protruding. They vary in color from pink flesh tones to dark brown or black. Everyone has moles; some of us have a lot, others have only a few. The number depends on our genes. Moles sometimes appear in “crops,” especially during the early teens.

Moles begin to grow in infancy. New ones can develop at any age. Once a mole appears, it usually stays for life without becoming a medical problem. A growing or changing mole in a youngster is almost always harmless. On the other hand, if an adult’s mole markedly changes in color or size, or bleeds, it should be checked by a physician.

Sometimes the skin around a mole loses its color so the mole appears to be surrounded by a white ring. This is called a “halo nevus” and is harmless. We leave it alone. With time, the white ring often disappears.

Malignant melanoma, a rare cancerous growth that may resemble a mole, is dangerous and should be removed surgically. It seldom appears before the age of 20 years.

Dr. Ellerin strongly suggests that yearly total skin exams be performed after age 20 and any mole that changes be checked within 1 month.


Treating Moles

We now offer a new mole examination technique utilizing state-of-the-art E.L.M. (Epiluminescence) microscope for more in-depth evaluations.
Most moles are harmless and safe to ignore. Moles may be treated under the following conditions:

  1. A mole that has bled, has an unusual shape, is growing rapidly, or changing color noticeably is giving warning signs of possible malignancy.
  2. A mole that is irritated by your clothing, comb, or razor is only a nuisance, but Dr. Ellerin can remove it to prevent ongoing irritation.
  3. A mole that is unsightly can be removed for “cosmetic reasons.”

Treating a protruding mole is a simple procedure. After numbing the skin, the doctor removes the projecting part of the mole with scissors or a scalpel. He may, as a matter of course, send the removed portion to a laboratory for microscopic examination. The wound heals to leave a flat mole, but the color generally remains the same. As a rule, dark moles leave dark spots. Quite often we can remove the entire mole.

Moles sometimes grow annoyingly coarse hair, and it may be safely removed by shaving or plucking. Permanent removal of the hair, which has roots deep within the skin, requires complete surgical excision of the mole. Electrolysis of the mole should be avoided.