Whether you have a mole, birthmark or warts, it is important to pay close attention to any skin abnormality to ensure they do not develop into a more serious condition. Regular self-exams and trips to your dermatologist are important in preventing further complications. While moles and birthmarks are normal and common, and warts are typically unpleasant but not serious, any of these conditions could develop into a more serious issue if you aren't paying attention.
Moles are common - almost everyone has a few and some people develop hundreds. Individuals with light skin tend to have more moles, with the average ranging from 10 to 40.
Some moles can increase the risk of developing skin cancer more than others. Performing regular self-exams helps you recognize the early warning signs of melanoma. When examining your moles, look for the ABCDEs of melanoma detection:
Asymmetry – one half is not like the other
Border – irregular, scalloped or poorly defined border
Color – varied from one area to another, shades of tan, brown and black
Diameter – melanomas are usually greater than 6mm
Evolving – a mole or skin lesion that looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape or color.
Warts are non-cancerous skin growths caused by a viral infection in the top layer of the skin. Viruses that cause warts are called human papillomavirus (HPV). Usually skin-colored and rough to the touch, warts can also be dark, flat and smooth. The appearance of a wart depends specifically on where it is growing. There are several kinds of warts, including:
Common warts – Usually grow on fingers, around the nails and on the backs of the hands.
Plantar Warts – Typically found on the soles of the feet.
- Flat Warts – Smaller and smoother than other warts, and tend to grow in large numbers.
Usually passed from person to person, warts can also be passed indirectly in some cases. The gap from first contact to the time the warts have grown large enough to be seen is often several months.
Birthmarks are areas of flat or raised discolored skin that are often on the body at birth or may develop shortly after birth. Birthmarks vary in color and may be brown, tan, black, blue, pink or red. Some birthmarks are only 'stains' on the surface of the skin, while others extend into the tissues under the skin or grow above the surface.
If you have a mole, birthmark or wart, it is important to visit your dermatologist for regular screenings in addition to self-exams at home. Though these are often harmless, it is important to keep a close eye on your ailments to prevent any further problems.