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Atypical Moles - Definition, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment


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Atypical moles is a disorder of the skin characterized by the presence of many mole-like tumors. Atypical mole syndrome is thought by some clinicians to be a precursor or forerunner of malignant melanoma. The surface of a mole can be smooth or wrinkled, flat or raised. Sometimes a mole may start out flat and brown and later become slightly raised and lighter in color. Some may become raised enough that they form a small stalk and are eventually rubbed off. Others may simply disappear. Large moles that are present at birth are called congenital nevi or giant hairy nevi. These moles may increase your risk of malignant melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer. In general, moles that are more than the size of an adult open palm pose the greatest risk. Atypical mole on the skin, have some features that are same as melanoma such as: an irregular border, slight variation in color, or asymmetry. They are usually larger than normal moles and have irregular borders.

Moles called atypical moles, or dysplastic nevi, have somewhat different physical characteristics and sometimes run in families. They are more likely than common moles to turn into cancer. People without a family history of atypical moles or melanoma have an increased risk of melanoma, but it is not as high as the risk observed in members of melanoma-prone families. Individuals with a single atypical mole on their bodies have a twofold risk of developing melanoma. Once the diagnosis of atypical moles is established, additional biopsies are performed only if melanoma is suspected, or if a new mole appears. Just as women who regularly examine their own breast are much more likely to be cured of breast cancer if it appears, self-exam of your skin once a month is the best defense against melanoma. Exposure of the skin to sunlight is also considered to be the reason for the development of atypical moles.

Causes of Atypical moles

Atypical moles may be caused due to genetic reasons. Sun exposure may lead to development of new moles or changes in existing moles, and may increase the risk of malignant melanoma over time. Benign moles develop from an excess accumulation of melanocytes. In rare cases, a benign mole, especially one that is large and varied, may turn into an atypical mole.

Common causes and risk factors of Atypical moles:

  • Exposing the skin to sunlight.
  • A family member with the atypical moles.
  • Hereditary.
  • Weakened immune system.

Signs and Symptoms of Atypical moles

The symptoms of atypical mole are characterized by a sudden change in size, shape, color or sensation. Moles can vary in color. They can be flesh-colored, yellow-brown or dark brown. They also can be flat or raised and can be smooth, hairy or warty. Although moles usually are harmless, in some cases they can become cancerous, causing a potentially deadly tumor called malignant melanoma.

Sign and symptoms may include the following :

  • A red peripheral hue is also present.
  • Oozing or bleeding.
  • A bump on a witch's chin.
  • Itching or burnings.

Treatment for Atypical moles

Because moles are extremely common and melanomas are uncommon, prophylactic removal is not justifiable. Scissors or a razor can be used to temporarily remove hair from a mole. Permanent hair removal, however, requires electrolysis or surgical removal of the mole. Use sunscreen daily on exposed skin areas. Atypical moles can be removed by shave or excision for cosmetic purposes, and all moles removed should be examined histologically. If hair is a concern, a hairy mole should be adequately excised rather than removed by shave. Otherwise, hair regrowth will occur. Incisional biopsy does not increase the likelihood of metastasis if the lesion is malignant, and it avoids extensive surgery for a benign lesion.

Treatment may include:

  • Safest way to remove an atypical mole is to cut it out but it may leave a permanent scar.
  • Excisional surgery may be used in some cases.
  • Moles can be removed by shave or excision for cosmetic purposes, and all moles removed should be examined histologically.
  • Scissors or a razor can be used to temporarily remove hair from a mole.