What makes a mole?
Our skin has cells called melanocytes. These cells cause us to become tan. Moles, which are benign spots on the skin formed by collecting “nevus cells,” are a product of melanocytes. We all have moles, of which size and exact appearance are largely based on genetics, and the amount of time we spend in the sun.
Moles are highly unique. Where one person might develop moles that are pink or tan, another may have moles that are dark brown. Some moles can appear earlier in life, and others past the age of thirty. Moles may also change over time, and be affected by chemical fluctuations in the body such as during puberty or pregnancy.
Most of the time, moles are non-cancerous lesions. Dermatologists recommend getting to know your specific type of moles by examining your skin on a monthly basis. In doing so, any changes can be quickly noticed and further assessed by a professional. Changes in size unrelated to puberty or pregnancy should be evaluated, as should change in color, shape, or texture. Should a mole become itchy, painful, or bleed, professional examination should be scheduled.
Irritation and cancer risk
Some people develop moles in areas where irritation can occur. For instance, a mole on the face or the leg might get nicked while shaving. Though a mole persistently “injured” in such a way does not increase the risk of skin cancer, some people do choose to have these moles removed for the sake of comfort.
Increased risk is more often associated with genetic predisposition.