Moles are very common growths on the skin. They are usually black or brown, and almost every adult has them. Most of us have anywhere between 10 to 40 moles on our bodies, and they tend to be more common in fair-skinned people. Most moles do not need to be removed. If you have a mole that has changed in shape, size, or color, it needs to be evaluated for skin cancer. There are many different techniques that can be used for mole removal. Removing a mole is best done in a doctor’s office.
Before You Remove a Mole
Most moles are what dermatologists call common moles and don’t pose any health risk. It’s important to understand when a mole could become a problem though. Your dermatologist needs to evaluate a mole to determine it is ready to be removed.
If you notice a new mole or one that has changed in shape or size, it’s best to see your dermatologist to be evaluated for melanoma, a form of skin cancer. Other possible signs of melanoma include moles that itch or bleed.
A helpful tool for evaluating your moles is by checking their ABCDEs:
- Asymmetrical: When the mole has an irregular shape and the two halves look different
- Border: An irregular or jagged border
- Color: Uneven or changing color
- Diameter: When the mole is larger than the size of a pea
- Evolving: If the mole has changed in recent weeks or months
Is Itching Normal?
The reasons behind an itchy mole are usually benign. You may be experiencing itching because of an environmental irritant. For example, if you notice that the itching started after you began using a new body lotion or laundry detergent, discontinue the new product and observe for changes.
While itching is usually a harmless condition, an itchy mole could be a sign of melanoma. Even if you have been able to identify the cause of the itching, see your dermatologist for a skin cancer check.
Mole removal should always be done under a doctor’s care. Chat with your dermatologist about which moles you’d like removed and if they have changed at all recently. Your doctor will then be able to recommend the right mole removal method for you. Mole removal usually takes place in the doctor’s office and requires no downtime.
To surgically remove your mole, your dermatologist will numb the mole and surrounding skin, then cut out the mole with a scalpel. They will finish by stitching up the skin around the mole.
To shave off your mole, your dermatologist will numb the area, then use a surgical blade to shave off the mole. This method is more common when your doctor is not concerned about the mole being cancerous.
Testing for Cancer
Regardless of which mole removal method you choose, your doctor will most likely send the mole off to a pathologist to examine it for skin cancer. This is done by examining the mole’s cells under a microscope. Skin cancer is highly treatable when caught early, so don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor about any moles you would like to have checked.
Some medical spas and beauty providers offer laser mole removal. While this sounds like a quick and painless option, it comes with its own set of risks. When your mole is removed by a laser, it can’t be tested for melanoma. This means that your skin cancer could go undetected because a dermatologist never had the chance to send it off to be tested and examined.
Laser mole removal can also change the cells underneath the mole. These cells will appear abnormal under a microscope and may lead to a false cancer diagnosis for a benign mole.
A quick internet search will bring you dozens of do-it-yourself (DIY) methods for mole removal. Many of these methods use natural ingredients and claim to be safe. It’s helpful to remember that DIY mole removal has not been proven to be safe. Some of the methods are dangerous and can lead to permanent scarring.
Attempting to remove a mole on your own is more complicated than it sounds. Cutting it off with scissors or a razor can lead to bleeding and a permanent scar. It may also lead to infection, especially if your tools are not sanitized.
There are also several natural remedies that involve placing herbs or oils on the mole, including:
These remedies are not proven to work, and some can lead to skin irritation. These methods can damage the mole and the surrounding skin, as well as lead to irritation and scarring.
Further studies may reveal more promising results in the future. Flaxseed oil, for example, has properties that can heal cuts and skin irritations. It may also help to lighten the appearance of moles. Always talk with your doctor before trying a natural remedy for mole removel at home.
Concealing Your Mole with Makeup
You may see moles on the face as interesting beauty marks or frustrating problems. Either way, moles are usually benign and there is no medical need to remove them. If you’d like to make moles on your face less noticeable, makeup may help.
Start by choosing the right concealer. Look for one that is one shade lighter than your skin and lightly brush it on with a concealer brush. Next, apply foundation to your face and then another layer of concealer. To finish, lightly dust the mole with a powder foundation. If you’re not happy with the results, a tattoo concealer may help.
Over The Counter (OTC) Cures
Pharmacies and online retailers offer DIY mole removal creams. These products claim to be easy and effective, saving you a trip to the dermatologist. Studies have found that users may experience thick scars after using these creams. Because these products are often not tested for safety or efficacy, it’s best to avoid them or talk with your doctor before trying these creams.
Complications Related to Mole Removal
Removing moles on your own at home is not recommended because of the potential complications. What appears to be a benign mole could be an early sign of skin cancer, and removing the growth yourself could mean putting off seeing a doctor who could diagnose and treat it early. Also, removing part of the mole could cause the cancer cells to spread.
Infection is also a serious risk of at-home mole removal. Most of us do not have the same sanitizing capacities as our doctors, leaving us open to bacteria and infection. An infection could result in redness, pain, and a thick scar. Scarring is a concern with DIY mole treatments, and your doctor may not be able to help once it’s happened. Cutting off a mole at home could result in uncontrolled bleeding, which could mean a visit to the emergency department to stop the bleeding and a scar as well.
A Word From Verywell
If you’ve been considering mole removal, you probably want to take action as soon as possible. It’s helpful to remember that most moles are benign and don’t need to be removed unless they bother you. Your doctor will have the best tools and methods for removing the mole without leaving a scar. Be mindful that DIY mole removal methods, while tempting, may result in scarring and other undesired results.
Even if you are OK with your moles, it’s always a good idea to have them checked out, especially if you notice a change in the mole’s shape, color, or other characteristics. Seeing your dermatologist will give them a chance to determine if they are signs of melanoma.