If you suddenly develop a new mole, is it cause for concern? Read on to find out.
Nearly every person has a least one mole, and if you’re fairer-skinned, it’s common to have anywhere from 10 to 20. Although not all moles are normal — and some can turn into skin cancer — there is no need to panic if you’ve found a new mole. Here are a few recommendations to follow if you’re concerned about a newly discovered mole.
The first thing to do is look at a picture of yourself from within the past year. Double check that it’s indeed a new mole and not one that you just noticed. You could also ask a partner or friend if they remember seeing the mole before, though memories will never be as reliable as photographic evidence.
If you confirm that the mole is indeed new, go ahead and make an appointment with your dermatologist for a checkup in the near future. If you have a standing appointment to have your moles checked (and you should) but it’s not for several more months, don’t wait until then. It’s important to have the mole looked at sooner rather than later.
Your dermatologist will examine any suspicious moles to determine if they need to be removed and, if necessary, biopsied. The doctor will either shave it off using a surgical blade or, if it’s larger, surgically excise it, which may require stitches.
If the mole grows back again, see your dermatologist immediately, as this is a sign of melanoma.
Symptoms of melanoma
- Changes in shape, size or color
- Becomes painful or tender
- Itches or bleeds
- Looks shiny, waxy, smooth or pale
Other potential symptoms of melanoma include:
- A flat, red spot that is scaly, rough or dry
- A firm red lump that bleeds or appears ulcerated or crusty
- A black/dark spot or streak under a fingernail or toenail that isn’t related to trauma to the nail
When melanoma is caught in its early stages, it can be cured. If melanoma is found, comprehensive cancer centers such as the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center at Keck Medicine of USC in Los Angeles can provide customized care and innovative techniques for battling cancer.
A quick note on new moles and children
If you spot a new mole on your child or teen, chances are it’s not cause for alarm. This is the age when normal moles start to appear, and according to the American Academy of Dermatology, they may get darker or lighter in color.