Moles are a mystery to people. Not the moles burrowing through your yard, but those showing up on your back or chest. They concern people, but most moles are nothing to worry about. Here’s some information on moles.
What are they?
A mole is a pigmented growth on the skin that occurs when melanocytes, or pigmented skin cells, develop in clusters. Moles are common and develop usually until a person reaches 40, and then they tend to begin to fade away.
The only moles to be concerned about are atypical, unusual in appearance or different from every other mole on your body. These moles are called dysplastic nevi and can develop into skin cancer if left untreated.
What a normal mole or a melanoma?
Melanoma is the form of skin cancer when the growth grows downward, eventually dropping cancerous cells into the bloodstream, where they can then lodge anywhere in the body. That’s why it’s important to catch melanoma early, before it begins growing downward. Moles and melanoma can be mistaken for each other. Here are the differences:
Moles are one color, usually brown. They can also be pink, tan, black, red, blue, or skin-toned. A single melanoma has different colors within the single growth.
Moles are usually round, while melanomas are irregular in shape with an asymmetrical border.
Most moles change very slowly over time, often disappearing as a person moves past 40. Melanomas look different than every mole, changing size, shape, and color.
Moles usually do not grow even to the size of a pencil eraser. Melanomas keep growing.
Treatment of moles
Most moles can be simply left to their business, but if they are bothersome (for instance, if a bra strap keeps hitting a mole), unattractive, or show signs of potential skin cancer we recommend taking them off. At Deschutes, we remove moles either with surgical excision (cutting them out) or surgical shaving, where we literally shave the mole off the skin.
Have a question about a mole? Call us at Deschutes Dermatology Center, 541-330-0900.
Here’s a little test to see just how much you know, or don’t know, about skin cancer. See how you do. Each question is true or false.
Skin cancer is the United States’ most common form of cancer
Skin cancer can be prevented.
Using sunscreen will prevent skin cancer from developing.
Melanoma is the most common type of skin cancer.
You won’t get skin cancer from tanning beds.
Most skin cancer cases can be cured.
People with moles have a higher risk for melanoma.
Most people who get skin cancer die from it.
True. About one million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer every year. More than that number probably go undiagnosed.
True. There are ways to lessen your exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun. Sun damage is cumulative, caused by UVA rays (they penetrate the skin and cause wrinkles) and UVB (they cause sunburn). Wear sun-blocking clothing. Wear sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays. Examine your skin regularly. Don’t use tanning beds.
False. Sunscreen doesn’t allow you to spend unlimited time in the sun. It helps block harmful rays, but you need to limit your exposure.
False. Melanoma is only about five percent of skin cancers, but it does cause the majority of deaths.
False. Tanning beds increase your chances of developing skin cancer, not the other way around.
True. All skin cancers, if caught early enough, can be cured with surgery.
True. People with lots of moles or especially large moles are at a higher risk for melanoma. Check your moles constantly to see if they change shape or color.
False. If detected early enough, most skin cancer cases are resolved successfully. But vigilance and early detection are key.
Living in Central Oregon, we are exposed to the sun almost every day of the year. Don’t take skin cancer lightly. Come and see us at Deschutes Dermatology every year to be checked.
Wrinkles are synonymous with aging. When you’re trying to decide on an option for addressing these signs of aging, it’s helpful to know just what wrinkles and lines are and how they form.
What makes a wrinkle? It all begins with a significant reduction in the levels of collagen and elastin produced by the skin. These naturally occurring proteins are responsible for supporting the skin but they decrease as we age. Plus, the skin’s other support structures — muscles, bones, and ligaments — weaken with age creating skin that is more loose and prone to sagging. The third component of wrinkle formation is the ultraviolet radiation from sun exposure.
There are other factors that can influence the creation of wrinkles: genetics, arid climates, fat loss, nutritional deficiencies, and frequent muscle contraction.
Lines and wrinkles: are they similar? Lines are inherently finer than wrinkles. The former are a result of repeated facial expressions such as frowning, squinting, or smiling. Lines do not form in younger people because they still have sufficient amounts of collagen and elastin to help the skin snap back into place. Wrinkles are thicker and more noticeable than lines. Often, they are a result of long periods of unprotected sun exposure. It’s common for a line to turn into a wrinkle.
Aging is inevitable, but you can slow its signs. Call us at Deschutes Dermatology Center and we’ll help you figure out the right treatment options for your wrinkle concerns. Call us at 541-330-0900 to schedule an appointment!
Every time you’re out in the sun, you’re increasing your chances of developing skin cancer. That said, it would be a pretty boring life if we all stayed inside 24 hours a day! And that’s especially true here in Bend, where the outdoors is always calling and the sun is shining most of the time.
Of course, you need to apply 30 spf sunscreen whenever you go outdoors, particularly for longer periods of time, such as on a hike or playing golf or swimming. Still, your body will be receiving ultraviolet rays from the sun; those are the rays that trigger the development of skin cancer.
There are three types of skin cancer, and it is wise for everyone in the Bend area to know the difference between them.
Basil cell carcinoma — This usually occurs on areas of the body that are frequently exposed to the sun such as your neck and face. This shows itself as a reddish patch on your skin that stays crusty and won’t heal, or a flesh-colored or brown scar-like lesion. Basil cell carcinomas forms on the epidermis, the outer layer of the skin. Basil cell growths are slow-growing and usually easily stopped if caught early.
Squamous cell carcinoma — This type of skin cancer also develops on areas directly exposed to the sun. It forms in the squamous cells, which are flat cells on the surface of the skin. It often develops in people with darker skin tones. The growths look like a hard, reddish bump on the skin, an open sore that bleeds, or a scaly patch.
Melanoma — This is the M word, the skin cancer that kills the most people because it can metastasize and spread throughout the body. Melanoma often appears on the face or trunk of men, and the legs of women, but it can develop anywhere, even on skin that isn’t exposed to the sun. For melanoma, watch for a mole that changes size, color, or bleeds. New dark spots on the skin, brown or black streaks underneath a fingernail or toenail. Even a bruise on the foot that won’t seem to go away. Melanoma is dangerous because it can grow downward and start depositing cancer cells into the bloodstream, where they can then end up anywhere in the body.
It is critical that everyone in the Bend area have yearly screenings for skin cancer. Call us at Deschutes Dermatology Center to set up your appointment.
There are several recommended methods to use in order to prevent skin cancer from developing. One of the most helpful is the use of sunscreen. You’ve heard about it hundreds of times, but do you actually use it properly? It’s important because sunscreen helps aid in preventing burns which damage cells—and damaged cells are the leading reason of skin cancer. That being said, there are several types of sunscreens on the market, all of which are customized to specific skin types.
You want to choose a sunscreen that is going to best work to prevent skin cancer for you personally. Here are rules to keep in mind when choosing the sunscreen to best fit your needs.
Children are usually sensitive to the ingredients in sunscreen, thus if you’re buying for your kids, look for a sunscreen that is made specifically for children. Most of these types of sunscreens are going to have zinc oxide as one of the main ingredients, which is more tolerable for children’s skin. If you have very sensitive skin, you might want to consider buying a children’s sunscreen for this same reason.
Those who suffer with acne or other skin conditions will want to avoid sunscreens that have fragrances and alcohol, as these can irritate the skin even more. You don’t want your sunscreen to cause more acne or skin issues. It’s supposed to help, not contribute to the problem.
Those who have pale or light skin will want to ensure that they are wearing a sunscreen that has an SPF of at least 30, despite the general recommendation of SPF 15. A higher SPF will offer better protection, which pale-skinned people need.
For darker skin tones and everyday use, a SPF of 15 should be plenty. The skin may not need more protection, but a person should feel free to use more if they desire. Keep in mind that the sun shines differently in different areas of the world. For example, if you are in Hawaii, you will want a stronger SPF—even if you have darker skin.
The sunscreen market is huge, and it can be very hard to find a sunscreen that best fits your needs. However, with these tips in mind a person can find the sunscreen that provides the best prevention for skin cancer.