Mole with a black center: What to Look for, When to Worry
What to Look for, When to Worry
Everyone has moles on their skin. On average, most people have at least 10, but less than 40 moles. A mole can appear anywhere on your body, and most moles appear by age 20.
Although your pattern of moles is most likely determined by your genetics, sun exposure can cause you to have more moles, and can cause the ones you already have to get darker. New moles tend to appear and existing ones tend to get larger and darker during your teen years and if you become pregnant.
Types of Skin Moles
If you have a mole, you may be wondering if it’s harmless or if you should see your doctor about it. A mole usually appears as a small, brownish spot on your skin, but can come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. Depending on its appearance and when it developed, a mole can be classified as one of the following types:
- Congenital moles. When a mole is present at birth, it is called a congenital mole, or congenital nevus. About 1 percent of people have congenital moles, and these moles may be at increased risk of turning into skin cancer.
- Acquired moles. Acquired moles account for most moles and usually develop during childhood or early adulthood. These moles are usually smaller than a quarter inch, and are thought to be due to excessive sun exposure. Most acquired moles will not develop into skin cancer.
- Atypical moles. Atypical moles (also known as dysplastic nevi) are larger than a pencil eraser and shaped irregularly. These moles are usually uneven in color, with a dark brown center. The borders of atypical moles may be irregular, with a lighter or reddish color, and unevenness or black dots around the edge. Atypical moles tend to run in families and they may be at increased risk of developing into skin cancer.
When to See Your Doctor About a Mole
It’s important to consult your doctor or a dermatologist about a suspicious skin mole since it may be an early sign of malignant melanoma, which is a life-threatening form of skin cancer.
Examine your skin regularly, looking for any new skin moles as well as changes in the moles you already have. If you have a family history of atypical moles or skin cancer, or a large number of moles or freckles, your primary doctor may suggest that you see a dermatologist for regular skin evaluations.
When you examine your moles, remember the ABCDEs of melanoma. If you notice any of the following, consult your doctor or dermatologist:
- A for asymmetry: A mole in which one half of the mole does not look like the other
- B for irregular border: A mole with a scalloped or poorly defined border
- C for varied color: A mole that consists of multiple shades of black, brown, white, red, and/or blue
- D for large diameter: A mole that has a diameter larger than that of a pencil eraser
- E for evolving: A mole that’s size, shape, or color changes over time
- New moles: A mole that develops, especially if it appears after age 20
- Bothersome moles: A mole that bleeds, itches, or is painful
Removing a Skin Mole
Most moles are harmless and do not need to be removed. But if your dermatologist thinks your mole looks suspicious, or if you would like to have the mole removed for cosmetic reasons, it can usually be done quite easily.
To remove a mole, your dermatologist will numb the area around your mole, and then shave or cut it off. After removing the mole, your dermatologist may need to close the area with one or a few stitches. The tissue will be sent to a laboratory to confirm that it is not cancerous.
Most moles are harmless, but getting any suspicious ones checked out quickly will enable you to detect skin cancer in its earliest stages, when it’s most treatable.
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Melanoma Warning Signs and Images
Finding melanoma at an early stage is crucial; early detection can vastly increase your chances for cure.
Look for anything new, changing or unusual on both sun-exposed and sun-protected areas of the body. Melanomas commonly appear on the legs of women. The number one place they develop on men is the trunk. Keep in mind, though, that melanomas can arise anywhere on the skin, even in areas where the sun doesn’t shine.
Most moles, brown spots and growths on the skin are harmless – but not always. The ABCDEs and the Ugly Duckling sign can help you detect melanoma.
Early detection makes a difference
5-year survival rate for patients in the U.S. whose melanoma is detected early. The survival rate drops to 68% if the disease reaches the lymph nodes and
30% if it spreads to distant organs.
The ABCDEs of melanoma
The first five letters of the alphabet are a guide to help you recognize the warning signs of melanoma.
A is for Asymmetry. Most melanomas are asymmetrical. If you draw a line through the middle of the lesion, the two halves don’t match, so it looks different from a round to oval and symmetrical common mole.
B is for Border. Melanoma borders tend to be uneven and may have scalloped or notched edges. Common moles tend to have smoother, more even borders.
C is for Color. Multiple colors are a warning sign. While benign moles are usually a single shade of brown, a melanoma may have different shades of brown, tan or black. As it grows, the colors red, white or blue may also appear.
D is for Diameter or Dark. While it’s ideal to detect a melanoma when it is small, it’s a warning sign if a lesion is the size of a pencil eraser (about 6 mm, or ¼ inch in diameter) or larger. Some experts say it is important to look for any lesion, no matter what size, that is darker than others. Rare, amelanotic melanomas are colorless.
E is for Evolving. Any change in size, shape, color or elevation of a spot on your skin, or any new symptom in it, such as bleeding, itching or crusting, may be a warning sign of melanoma.
If you notice these warning signs and symptoms, or see anything NEW, CHANGING or UNUSUAL on your skin see a dermatologist promptly.
A is for Asymmetry
B is for Border
C is for Color
D is for Diameter or Dark
E is for Evolving (Before)
E is for Evolving (After)
Please note: Since not all melanomas have the same appearance, these photos serve as a general reference for what melanoma can look like. If you see anything NEW, CHANGING or UNUSUAL on your skin, go get checked by a dermatologist.
Look out for an ugly duckling
The Ugly Duckling is another warning sign of melanoma. This recognition strategy is based on the concept that most normal moles on your body resemble one another, while melanomas stand out like ugly ducklings in comparison. This highlights the importance of not just checking for irregularities, but also comparing any suspicious spot to surrounding moles to determine whether it looks different from its neighbors. These ugly duckling lesions can be larger, smaller, lighter or darker, compared to surrounding moles. Also, isolated lesions without surrounding moles for comparison are considered ugly ducklings.
Melanoma can be tricky
Identifying a potential skin cancer is not easy, and not all melanomas follow the rules. Melanomas come in many forms and may display none of the typical warning signs.
It’s also important to note that about 20 to 30 percent of melanomas develop in existing moles, while 70 to 80 percent arise on seemingly normal skin.
Amelanotic melanomas are missing the dark pigment melanin that gives most moles their color. Amelanotic melanomas may be pinkish, reddish, white, the color of your skin or even clear and colorless, making them difficult to recognize.
Acral lentiginous melanoma (ALM), the most common form of melanoma found in people of color, often appears in hard-to-spot places, including under the fingernails or toenails, on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet. View images.
The takeaway: Be watchful for any new mole or freckle that arises on your skin, a sore or spot that does not heal, any existing mole that starts changing (growing, swelling, itching) or any spot, mole or lesion that looks unusual.
Acral lentiginous melanoma (ALM) is the most common melanoma found in people of color.
What you can do
Check yourself: No matter your risk, examine your skin head-to-toe once a month to identify potential skin cancers early. Take note of existing moles or lesions that grow or change. Learn how to check your skin here.
When in doubt, check it out. Because melanoma can be so dangerous once it advances, follow your instincts. Visit your doctor if you see a spot that just doesn’t seem right.
Keep in mind that while important, monthly self-exams are not enough. See your dermatologist at least once a year for a professional skin exam.
If you’ve had a melanoma, follow up regularly with your doctor once treatment is complete. Stick to the schedule your doctor recommends. This ensures that you identify any recurrence as early as possible.
Allan C. Halpern, MD
Ashfaq A. Marghoob, MD
Ofer Reiter, MD
Last updated: January 2021
Find a Dermatologist
A black mole has appeared: what does it mean?
Do you have a black mole on your body and don’t know if you should panic? In order not to be tormented by doubts, we suggest signing up for a consultation with a dermatologist at the specialized medical center “Lazersvit” in Kyiv. And so that you understand that any new skin formations cannot be ignored, we offer useful information about black nevi and their health hazards.
Black moles appeared on the body: causes
A black mole is an accumulation of melanocytic cells in the skin that are responsible for pigment production. Why they combine into peculiar compounds, even experienced dermatologists cannot say with certainty. There are two versions explaining the appearance of nevi on the skin:
- Moles are formed in humans during fetal development. However, at birth, only 10 percent of them are on the skin. Gradually, they all appear – by the age of 15 they are already 95%. The reasons for the formation of this type of skin pathology are various skin deformities, as well as a genetic predisposition.
- Moles appear on the body under the influence of external negative factors, as a result of protective functions. The factors that cause the formation of black moles include solar radiation, skin trauma, exposure to aggressive chemicals. A black mole may appear due to hormonal imbalance during puberty, during pregnancy.
For most people, it is not so important what caused the appearance of black moles. They are more interested in whether such neoplasms are dangerous, whether it is necessary to run to an oncologist to rule out melanoma, and what to do with such skin pathologies if the doctor has confirmed the good quality of the nevus.
Are black moles dangerous?
In the 21st century, perhaps, there is no person left who has not heard about melanoma. The number of registered cases of this disease is growing every year. Among the causes of skin cancer development, oncologists name:
- aggressive UV exposure;
- stress and intense rhythm of people’s lives;
- bad ecology, poor quality food;
- the appearance in everyday life of various aggressive substances that adversely affect the condition of the skin – household chemicals, various synthetic compounds.
The result of the impact of all these factors on the human body is an increased risk of developing cancer. And their top ten includes skin cancer – melanoma.
Of course, most black moles are benign and will never pose a health risk. However, only a doctor after a thorough diagnosis can completely eliminate the risks. If black moles behave calmly, do not grow, do not itch, do not hurt, it is enough to be examined by a dermatologist once a year for preventive purposes. However, if a previously light, red or brown mole has turned black, if the neoplasm has changed size and shape, you definitely need to immediately contact a dermatologist. Other signs and symptoms that require medical attention are:
- black mole growing;
- nevus has jagged edges;
- the texture of the surface has changed, there are blotches of a different color on it;
- neoplasm itches, bleeds.
In other words, any changes in the nevus should be alarming. Do not rush to get nervous and panic. Just make an appointment with a dermatologist to make sure this dynamic is safe or get treatment advice.
Fair-haired and fair-skinned people who burn in the sun are at risk. It is also recommended to be checked for people whose close relatives have been diagnosed with cancer.
Never attempt to remove the tumor yourself at home. Such manipulations can lead to skin burns, bleeding of the nevus, and damage to it. Doctors say that trauma and burns of benign moles are one of the common causes of their rebirth.
How are melanoma-dangerous nevi diagnosed? The digital device repeatedly increases the skin cover. Thanks to this, the doctor is able to examine in detail the pattern, texture, structure of the pigment spot and even determine its depth in the layers of the dermis. If the mole causes concern in the specialist, a biopsy and a histological examination are additionally prescribed.
Removal of a black mole: methods
Dangerous black moles are subject to mandatory surgical excision with the capture of adjacent tissues. Benign flat skin formations that are not an aesthetic problem, for example, on the back, can not be removed. However, if a large nevus on the face spoils the appearance, is often exposed to ultraviolet radiation due to its location in an open area of the body, if a convex mole is injured by clothing and accessories, it is also recommended to remove it. Popular treatments for dermatological pathologies of all kinds are:
- Cryodestruction. Freezing the neoplasm allows you to remove it. Unfortunately, the surrounding tissues are affected. And it is difficult to control the degree of exposure to liquid nitrogen. Because of this, the skin is severely injured, a long rehabilitation period is required.
- Electrocoagulation and radio wave removal allow the dermatologist-surgeon to work more precisely. However, they have a number of contraindications. For example, electrocoagulation is not performed on people with a pacemaker.
- Laser removal of black moles remains the method of choice for many reasons today.
The advantage of the laser method in MC “Lazersvit”
Laser removal of moles is the right decision. This method is safe, painless, fast. We list all the advantages of the laser method:
- No preliminary preparation is required.
- Although small black moles on the body, a single large formation can be evaporated in one session.
- The procedure is painless, does not take much time, so even a child can endure it without anesthesia.
- A small list of contraindications – laser removal of moles can be done by children, the elderly.
- Gently, pinpoint nevus can be removed not only on the leg or arm, but also under the hair on the head, on the sensitive area of the skin on the abdomen.
- After treatment, there is no need for hospitalization, which means that the patient can immediately return to normal life.
- Nevi are removed very quickly. In a few minutes, the doctor will relieve you of unwanted moles.
- No risk of bleeding as the capillaries are instantly cauterized.
- There is no infection of the wound, as the laser disinfects the site of impact.
After the procedure, a red spot remains on the skin, which becomes covered with a crust. She’ll be gone in a few days. There will be no trace left on the skin either from the presence of a mole or from a micro-operation. All these factors explain why more and more people are choosing laser therapy when they need to remove skin lesions. However, you need to trust only qualified doctors working on modern laser equipment. It is these specialists that are accepted in our medical center “Lazersvit”. We will be glad to help you.
Is it possible to remove a mole without consulting a dermatologist in a beauty salon?
Black moles are removed for medical and cosmetic reasons. If the mole is borderline, dangerous, the doctor must remove it surgically with the capture of surrounding tissues and subsequent histology. Ugly moles on the face can be removed by a dermatologist using one of the methods described above, but only after examining them for goodness.
Can a black mole be removed on the same day?
No preparation required for removal of black moles. The procedure can be carried out on the day of treatment if, after dermatoscopy, the doctor confirmed its good quality.
What complications can occur after laser removal of a nevus?
When performed by an experienced specialist using modern equipment, the removal of neoplasms takes place without complications. The capabilities of the specialized clinic “Lazersvit” allow the most effective, pointwise removal of skin pathologies, providing a high cosmetic result.
Can any mole be removed?
Modern methods allow you to safely remove benign nevi of any shape, any size and on any part of the skin. However, recommendations in each case should be given by a dermatologist.
Four signs of a dangerous mole: how not to get melanoma
The holiday season is in full swing, and many Russians have rushed to where they can enjoy the sun and warmth. Longing for the ultraviolet, residents of the central regions of the country this year abuse the sun much more actively than in the old days. What is fraught with very unpleasant consequences … Why is sunbathing so dangerous? Which moles should be a cause for concern, and which ones should not be worried about? Why is the incidence of skin cancer (melanoma) soaring? Is skin tone a risk factor? In an exclusive interview with MK, these and many other questions were answered by a well-known doctor, head of the tumor biotherapy department of the Federal State Budgetary Institution “N.N. N.N. Blokhin” of the Ministry of Health of Russia, Chairman of the Board of the Association of Melanoma Specialists Lev Demidov.
– Lev Vadimovich, what does the statistics of melanoma incidence in Russia show?
– About 10 thousand cases of skin melanoma are registered annually in Russia. And the statistics are such that the number of cases is constantly increasing. Over the past decades, we have seen a distinct increase in the incidence in Russia, which coincides with the general global trend, in fact, for all countries of the Western world – Europe, the USA, i.e. for those countries where the predominantly white population lives.
– Who is at the highest risk of developing skin melanoma?
– The highest risk is for those who expose their skin to sunburn. It is well known that human skin adapts to the influence of ultraviolet radiation in different ways, and this adaptation is reflected in skin color and is called a phototype. There are 6 basic human skin phototypes, which are distributed as follows: white/red (1), light skin (2), dark skin (3), very dark skin (4), dark skin (5), and black skin (6). With skin phototypes 1 and 2, uncontrolled exposure to the sun will surely end in a burn. Even phototype 3 is not able to protect the skin from burns during intense sunbathing.
It is important to remember that one-time and even more frequent sunburns significantly increase the risk of developing melanoma. That is why you need to be extremely careful with tanning. And this applies to both children and adults: skin burns in childhood can lead to the fact that melanoma will appear several decades later in adulthood. Few people think about the connection between childhood burns and melanoma in later life, but it exists and has already been proven.
– Which skin growths are a risk factor?
– There are various pigment formations on our body, and we need to distinguish all these formations according to the time of their appearance. Some are congenital, while others are acquired. I recommend paying attention to those pigmented formations that appear in a person in adulthood, because melanoma is characterized by the appearance of acquired formations. The causal relationship here is as follows: first, a mole appears in a person, flat, inconspicuous, small in size – 2-3 mm in diameter, and this acquired formation can gradually increase in size and eventually turn into a so-called dysplastic nevus, usually this happens when the size of the formation reaches 5-6 mm in diameter. Further, the dysplastic nevus can either remain the same size, without changing in diameter, or become a background for the occurrence of melanoma.
– And which moles should inspire suspicion?
– In a simplified form, the answer is – those moles that obviously undergo changes over a foreseeable period of time, usually over several months. Of course, it is difficult for a non-specialist to understand these subtleties. The diagnostic test rule ABCD, developed by American dermato-oncologists more than thirty years ago, can come to the rescue, which we can adapt into Russian in the form of an abbreviation ABCD similar in phonetics. Each letter reflects a symptom that begins to manifest itself gradually and requires attention. For example, A is an asymmetry that did not exist before, B is a border or border with the surrounding skin (was it even? But it began to disappear or bend), C – color (there was one shade of color, but additional ones began to appear) and, finally, D – the diameter of the mole (it was less than 5 mm, but it became even slightly, but more). Together, all these changes reflect their dynamics in the “life” of the mole. And this is another meaning in the letter D.
In a normal state, the presence or appearance of a mole in a person should not necessarily be associated with such changes and growth of the formation.
– How often do you need to visit the doctor to examine nevi?
– I find it difficult to answer, but to begin with, I would give the following recommendation: any person, regardless of age, needs to carefully look at themselves today – let this be a starting point, see some pigmented formations on their skin in different places, evaluate these moles: whether they really were from birth or appeared several years ago, for example, appeared after intense sunbathing in the summer. When a person evaluates himself on his own, then he will have some idea whether he lives with this “baggage” all his life or whether this “baggage” is constantly replenished. In the second case, he should have seen a specialist, and the specialist would have told him what to do next.
– Can melanoma be treated only in the early stages? And is there anything new in the treatment of melanoma?
– In the early stages, melanoma is treated well – as a rule, this is a small operation to remove the primary object, after which the patient with melanoma can forget about his disease forever. If the diagnosis is made out of time, then the person has an increased chance that the disease will be chronic, i.e. at a certain stage, secondary signs of the disease will appear, which we call metastases. For melanoma, it is very characteristic that metastases can be in large numbers in different organs, and this, of course, adversely affects the overall prognosis of the disease. When metastases appear, only surgical treatment is no longer enough, and drug treatment is required – initially it was chemotherapy, and in recent years 2 new methods have appeared. The first of these is targeted therapy aimed at a specific target in the tumor cell. Typically, the target is a specific signal that triggers cell division. When a certain mutation appears, which exists in approximately 50% of patients, the signal enters the cell constantly, and therefore it begins to divide uncontrollably. The second method, immuno-oncological, provides not tumor cells, but cells of the immune system as an object of action, i.e. thanks to the action of the drug, the immune system becomes able to independently fight the tumor.
– You said that burning is a major factor in the development of melanoma. Can sunscreen protect against this disease?
– Of course, you need to use them, and if you are in a hot climate zone, then the protection factor should probably be more than 30 SPF. But here another problem arises: when a person has applied such a cream to the skin, he automatically considers himself protected, and, using this, exceeds the allowable time spent in the sun, and increases it himself. And in the end, the time of exposure of this person to the sun will be much longer, and the protective effect that he received initially is lost. This must be kept in mind. In addition, today special fabrics are being developed that delay ultraviolet radiation and beachwear is sewn from these fabrics. These clothes can be sold in specialized stores, it makes sense to buy them, especially for children.
– Are there any other preventive measures?
– The main thing for the prevention of skin melanoma is to avoid skin burns caused by natural or artificial ultraviolet radiation. At the same time, we do not forbid a person to be in the sun. We need to promote the right culture of sunbathing. And for this, each person must know the characteristics of his skin, first of all, its phototype, and be guided by this in the right direction when organizing his vacation in the warm season.
Material on the topic: The sun is our friend and enemy: examine all your moles
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