There’s a lot of conflicting advice out there when it comes to moles. Separating the myths from the truth can be important so that you know exactly when to worry about your moles and when to ignore them. This post lists a few common mole myths that you shouldn’t believe.
All Moles Are Caused By Sun Damage
Moles are more likely to appear on areas of skin exposed to the sun. As a way of protecting itself against the sun, the skin produces a pigment known as melanin. This usually spreads evenly throughout the skin (i.e. a suntan), but sometimes it can end up getting concentrated in a certain area which results in a mole.
However, while this is the most common reason we get moles, it isn’t the only reason. Some of us are born with moles and sometimes they can end up forming on areas not exposed to sun simply due to hormonal changes. Staying out of the sun may prevent you from developing as many moles, but don’t be surprised if a few still appear.
Skin Cancer Always Starts As A Mole
We’re often told to keep an eye on our moles to ensure that they don’t turn into cancerous melanomas. However, what many people don’t realise is that melanomas don’t always begin as moles. In fact, only 20 to 30% of melanomas begin as moles – the rest appear on other parts of the body where they can sometimes be overlooked as pimples or rashes.
A Mole That Changes In Shape Or Size Is A Sure Sign Of Cancer
A mole that changes in size or shape isn’t necessarily a sign of skin cancer. In fact, many of our moles naturally grow or shrink over time without necessarily being cancerous. It’s still a good idea to get these moles checked out, but you shouldn’t assume the worst. You should be concerned if a mole is itchy or painful, if it has uneven borders, if it contains more than one colour within it, or if it develops a crust/starts weeping. A skin cancer treatment clinic will be able to identify whether you have a melanoma and provide the appropriate treatment.
A Mole With A Hair In It Is Not Cancerous
Some people believe a hairy mole is a sign of cancer, while others believe that it is a sign that it is not cancerous. In reality, a hairy mole doesn’t really prove anything. While moles are less likely to be cancerous if they have a hair in them (usually the tumour will cause the hair to die), melanomas can still have hairs growing out.
Picking At A Mole Can Make It Bigger And Potentially Cancerous
You shouldn’t pick at moles because it could cause them to become infected. However, a mole that has been irritated won’t necessarily turn into a melanoma. It also won’t grow any bigger as some people believe. Leave them alone, but don’t be too concerned if you catch one.