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Moles - When to Worry

Most moles are the result of heredity. If your mom or dad has a mole, then you are very likely to also have a mole. It is believed that moles that are not caused by heredity are caused by overexposure to the sun, like freckles or age spots.

Protecting your skin for excessive sun rays is so important. Every dermatologist will tell you that the sun does more damage to the skin than all other environmental agents put together. Use a sunscreen with an SPF rating of at least 15. Avoid being in direct sunlight between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM, and if you must be in the sun during those hours, wear sunscreen AND a hat and protective clothing...long pants and long-sleeved shirts.

Okay, back to moles. Moles on the face have often been called "beauty marks" and intentionally enhanced. Cindy Crawford, Enrique Iglesias, and Madonna all have rather famous moles. Moles that aren't wanted are most often removed by dermatologists using liquid nitrogen. Sometimes there will be a small scar left as a reminder that there was once a mole.

Moles are as unique as snowflakes. No two people have absolutely identical moles. Moles are symmetrical and can be any color - flesh tone, tan, brown, or black. Moles are generally not a health concern, but rather a cosmetic problem or enhancement depending upon your point of view.

However, if a mole changes color or shape, you should immediately consult your doctor. Moles that stay the same color and are symmetrical are not cancerous, but if they change color or shape, it is possible that they have become cancerous. Even those who have moles that have not changed color or shape should have a screening for cancer at least once a year. You just can't be too careful!


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