- Signs and Symptoms of Melanoma Skin Cancer
- Normal moles
- Possible signs and symptoms of melanoma
- Removing a Skin Tag
- Melanoma skin cancer
- What happens after your mole is removed
- Getting your results
- What happens next
- Surgical Removal of Moles
- Moles and Mole Control
- Biology/ Identification of Moles
- Mole Habits – Mole Tunnels
- Do Moles Remain Active During The Winter?
- Removing Moles and Skin Tags
- Topic Overview
- Mole Removal Basics: When to Contact a Dermatologist vs. a Plastic Surgeon
Signs and Symptoms of Melanoma Skin Cancer
Unusual moles, sores, lumps, blemishes, markings, or changes in the way an area of the skin looks or feels may be a sign of melanoma or another type of skin cancer, or a warning that it might occur.
A normal mole is usually an evenly colored brown, tan, or black spot on the skin. It can be either flat or raised. It can be round or oval. Moles are generally less than 6 millimeters (about ¼ inch) across (about the width of a pencil eraser). Some moles can be present at birth, but most appear during childhood or young adulthood. New moles that appear later in life should be checked by a doctor.
Once a mole has developed, it will usually stay the same size, shape, and color for many years. Some moles may eventually fade away.
Most people have moles, and almost all moles are harmless. But it’s important to recognize changes in a mole – such as in its size, shape, color, or texture – that can suggest a melanoma may be developing.
Possible signs and symptoms of melanoma
The most important warning sign of melanoma is a new spot on the skin or a spot that is changing in size, shape, or color.
Another important sign is a spot that looks different from all of the other spots on your skin (known as the ugly duckling sign).
If you have one of these warning signs, have your skin checked by a doctor.
The ABCDE rule is another guide to the usual signs of melanoma. Be on the lookout and tell your doctor about spots that have any of the following features:
- A is for Asymmetry: One half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other.
- B is for Border: The edges are irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred.
- C is for Color: The color is not the same all over and may include different shades of brown or black, or sometimes with patches of pink, red, white, or blue.
- D is for Diameter: The spot is larger than 6 millimeters across (about ¼ inch – the size of a pencil eraser), although melanomas can sometimes be smaller than this.
- E is for Evolving: The mole is changing in size, shape, or color.
Some melanomas don’t fit these rules. It’s important to tell your doctor about any changes or new spots on the skin, or growths that look different from the rest of your moles.
Other warning signs are:
- A sore that doesn’t heal
- Spread of pigment from the border of a spot into surrounding skin
- Redness or a new swelling beyond the border of the mole
- Change in sensation, such as itchiness, tenderness, or pain
- Change in the surface of a mole – scaliness, oozing, bleeding, or the appearance of a lump or bump
Be sure to show your doctor any areas that concern you and ask your doctor to look at areas that may be hard for you to see. It’s sometimes hard to tell the difference between melanoma and an ordinary mole, even for doctors, so it’s important to show your doctor any mole that you are unsure of.
To see examples of normal moles and melanomas, visit the Skin Cancer Image Gallery on our website.
Remember, too, that a small portion of melanomas start in places other than the skin, such as under a fingernail or toenail, inside the mouth, or even in the colored part of the eye (iris), so it’s important to show a doctor any new or changing spots in these areas as well.
Removing a Skin Tag
This is a small flap of flesh-colored tissue that hangs off your skin by a thin stalk. You’re most likely to find one in an area where your skin rubs together, or in folds, like your armpits, neck, eyelids, under your breasts, or in your groin.
People who are overweight, have diabetes, or are pregnant get skin tags more often. They can show up whether you’re a man or woman. Children don’t usually get them, though.
A skin tag is normally harmless and painless. You might want to have it removed if it gets in your way. Something rubbing against it can irritate it. It might snag on jewelry and clothing.
Sometimes people choose to have one removed because they don’t like the way it looks.
Your doctor will choose one of several ways to remove it during an office visit:
- Snipping. Your doctor will numb the area. He’ll cut off the tag with special scissors. This gets rid of the skin tag immediately.
- Freezing. Doctors call this “cryotherapy.” They use super-cold liquid nitrogen to remove the skin tag. It will fall off about 10-14 days after the treatment. The downside is this method can irritate the skin around the tag.
- Burning. An electrode sends an electric current into the skin growth. It dries out the tissue so the tag falls off.
After it’s removed, it usually won’t return. But another can appear somewhere else on your body.
Melanoma skin cancer
They remove the whole mole and a small amount (2mm) of normal skin around it. This is what the British Association of Dermatologists recommend in their guidelines. Your specilist sends what they remove to the laboratory.
They close the wound with stitches. You may have a small dressing over the top to begin with. Your doctor or nurse will let you how to look after the wound and dressing.
What happens after your mole is removed
A week or two later, you go back to the clinic or your GP practice to have your stitches taken out. You might have stitches that dissolve on their own instead.
Getting your results
You get your results at the clinic or your GP practice. It may take up to 2 weeks to get them.
Waiting for test results can be worrying. It may help to talk to a close friend or relative about how you feel.
You can also call the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040. The lines are open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
What happens next
You will need to go into hospital for another operation to remove more tissue, if you have melanoma.
This is called a wide local excision. The aim is to take away any cancerous cells that may have been left in the area around the melanoma. It reduces the chance of the melanoma coming back.
Depending on how deep your melanoma is, you might need tests to find out if it has spread to another area of your body.
If you don’t have melanoma, you do not need any further tests or treatment.
Surgical Removal of Moles
If your child has a mole that is very large, disfiguring or interfering with normal function or development, the mole may be removed surgically. Surgical excision (removal) is also generally recommended for giant congenital nevi (GCN) and large congenital melanocytic nevi (LCMN), as these moles have the greatest risk of developing melanoma.
Your child’s doctor will help explain the nature of the mole and go over the options for treatment. When removing these very large moles, a plastic surgeon may be needed for surgical excision and any reconstruction that may be needed to minimize scarring and improve appearance.
What to expect
At The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, your child will receive comprehensive, up-to-date care from expert pediatric surgeons.
Surgical excision may involve more than one stage depending on the size of the mole. Tissue expanders may be used to help expand and “grow” the skin in order to aid in reconstruction.
Depending on the size and location of the mole (for example if the mole is interfering with your child’s ability to function normally), more complex reconstruction involving skin grafts or tissue transfer may be required. Our plastic surgeons are experienced in the most complex reconstructions.
Follow-up care after surgery
After surgery, your child’s surgeon will assess the surgical incisions and wounds to ensure your child is healing properly.
Depending on the extent of the surgery, your child may require a stay at the hospital. If tissue expanders were placed, weekly office visits may be required to continue the expansion process.
Depending on the mole, some children may require additional surgeries.
If a mole returns, or shows any concerning changes that may risk developing into skin cancer like melanoma, your child will have immediate access to top pediatric oncologists.
Moles and Mole Control
- Victor Mole Trap-
Victor Out O Sight Mole Trap is a typical scissor-type trap. This trap is more economical than the Talpirid Mole Trap, but more difficult to set.
Establish intial activity:Use your finger, small wooden dowel or a narrow rod to puncture a hole in the top of subsurface runways. Be careful not to crush runways. Mark opened runways and revisit them 48 to 72 hours later. Runways that have had holes resealed within 72 hours should be baited.
Talpirid Mole Trap is a heavy-duty, dual-spring trap designed for use by the professional pest control market. Talpirid Mole Trap offers professionals speed and safety in servicing mole accounts. This specially designed “hands-free” mole trap is fast and easy to place and set.
After identifying and properly preparing an active mole tunnel, simply place the trap jaws in the active mole tunnel and step on the trap’s yellow foot pedal which sets the trigger below the surface. Once set, the low-profile TALPIRID Mole Trap sits close to the ground – no bulky metal or equipment sticking out of the ground. The trap’s dual springs ensure maximum catching power. When a mole encounters the underground trigger, the yellow pedal springs up making notification of capture easy and safe.
Captured moles are released by removing the trap from the ground and compressing the pedal by hand. Using the safety release button, the trap can be easily and safely disengaged and relocated to other mole tunnels, depending on mole pressure. Talpirid Mole Trap can be used over and over again. Made of glass-filled nylon, Talpirid Mole Trap will not rust and can be used in all types of soil.
To get complete instructions, please view the video below.
3. Using Gassers for Mole Control
Although the poisonous gases such as Revenge Rodent Smoke Bombs are generally less effective unless you can gas the major nests and/or repeated applications are made, some people have gotten good results with this type of product.
4. Using Mole Repellents
- Mole Scam Professional-22 lbs- -is a professional granulated mole repellent that drives moles from your yard by organic repellents (Castor Oil – 17.0%, Citronella Oil – .9997% , Garlic Oil – .0003%). Apply Mole Scram Professional during the mole seasons, usually in the spring and fall; lasts 30-45 days, covers up to 16, 500 square feet.
- Mole Scram Granular Repellent- -10 lbs(Castor Oil – 15.0%,Citronella Oil – .4997% , Garlic Oil – .0003% ;covers up to 7500 square feet
- MoleMax is also a granululated product by Bonide, with a lesser percentage of Castor Oil (10.0%, no other ingredients).
- Whole Control (Top Recommendation)
- Sweeney’s Mole and Gopher Repellent
- Shotgun Repels All
5. Controlling with Insecticides To Kill Insects and Grubs
Treating the lawn surface with a granule such as Imidacloprid .5G or Merit Granules would eliminate their food sources (insects, grubs and worms). Eliminating their food source, however, has one drawback. The moles will tunnel more aggressively in search of food, causing more temporary surface damage. This increased tunneling and surface damage will last for 2-4 weeks.
Imidacloprid .5G or Merit Granules are best applied during the spring months and are long lasting. Most Imidacloprid liquid formulations do not work well as the granule formulations.
Biology/ Identification of Moles
Moles have bluish-black to gray fur. They have a slender snout, teeth like needles, flattened feet, claws and small ears. Moles can grow up to 12 ” long; depends on the species. Moles have pointed noses that distinguish them from meadow voles, gophers, and shrews. Their noses extend well in front of their mouths. Their small eyes nad ears are concealed by fur. Their feet are spade like in shape and are wider than they are long.
Discharged mounded soil and heaved runways are indicators of the mole’s presence. The Eastern mole is the most common mole found in the eastern US, the most troublesome species on the coast of Oregon and Washington is the Townsend’s mole, the Broad-footed mole can be found in California. Eastern moles can be found from the Atlantic to the foothills of the Rockies and from Southern Canada to the panhandle of Florida. All moles can be damaging, but the Eastern mole is by far the most widespread. It is better described as the common or grey mole. This mole is the strongest of the group and is most often associated with tunnels and or mole mounds by residential homeowners. Moles are not rodents, but belong to a group of mammals called insectivores. Moles have a very high metabolic rate and, therefore, have to consume large amounts of food.
Moles mate during the months of February and March. They produce a single litter of three to five; gestation period is six weeks. Moles do not hibernate and store food or fat. Severe lawn damage can result until mole control is used or the lawn surfaces freezes in the winter. Newborn female moles will mate the following spring, and the cycle begins anew.
Mole activity occurs both during the day and night. They can be seen during damp days or the day after a rain during the spring and summer months as they push up the their tunnels or mounds. If the lawn freezes in the winter or there is a very dry summer, the moles use deep burrows.
Moles have large appetites and may eat up to 100 percent of their body weight in one day. White grubs, earthworms, beetles, and assorted larvae are their principal foods. Moles feed primarily on insects that feed below the ground. The tunnels that the mole excavates while searching for food may be used only once or may be traveled repeatedly. Moles may be active during any time of the day and seem to prefer cool, moist soil (the same as that preferred by grubs and earthworms). Moles do not eat the roots and bulbs of flowers and vegetables, a commonly held belief. Voles and shrews will attack the roots and bulbs. In fact, moles may benefit these plants by feeding on grubs and worms that can damage them. However, the tunneling activities of moles may disfigure lawns and gardens.
Mole Habits – Mole Tunnels
Moles produce two types of runways (tunnels); sub-surface runways and deep runways. Moles build vast underground tunnels in search of worms, insects and nesting/living space. Mounds form a row of excavations unlike the random excavations of a gopher.
Certain mole tunnels of both the deeper runways and the sub surface runways are used as major lane of travel (main runways) and may be used by several moles in the areas. Sub-surface mole runways are feeding tunnels just below the soil surface and commonly seen as the raised ridges running through lawn areas. The mole is capable of extending these runways at the rate of 100 feet per day. Sub-surface mole runs may be used daily, may be revisited at irregular intervals, or may be used only once for feeding and then abandoned.
Moles connect with the deep runways, which are located between 3-12 inches below the surface. As a rule, few or no mole mounds are produced as a result of the production of sub-surface tunnels. The deep mole tunnels are usually main runways since they are used daily as the mole travels to and form the main subsurface runways or the nest. The soil excavated from the deep tunnels is deposited on the surface through short vertical tunnels in volcano-like mounds (Mole mounds should not be confused with pocket gopher mounds which are horse-shoe shaped.) The number of mole mounds or surface ridges present is no indication of how may moles may be present. On average, one acre of land will support about two or three moles at one time. But areas next to large tracts or forested areas may be subject to continual invasions by moles because such areas may support many moles.
Do Moles Remain Active During The Winter?
Yes. Bet you weren’t expecting an answer so quickly. Most of the time, when we have a question, we run to the internet and have to skim down through a long article to get to our answer. Well, no skimming here. Moles can remain active all winter long. They don’t hibernate. But, that isn’t the whole story. If you want the whole story, you’re going to have to keep reading.
When there is a foot of snow on the ground (or ten) it is hard to imagine moles being active. Not only is that snow freezing cold, the ground is freezing cold too, and often hard as a rock for a foot or more. How on earth are moles able to dig through the frozen ground and scurry around in the snow? And if they are able to dig their way to the surface, what foods are they going to eat? All the vegetation is gone. These are good questions.
As the soil freezes, moles stop making surface tunnels and dig deeper into the ground. In the middle of winter, they will be below the frost line eating bugs aplenty. But they don’t stay deep in the ground. They will begin to tunnel closer and closer to the surface as the soil gets easier to dig through and the temperatures become more bearable. Sometimes, this happens even before the snow has completely melted.
One of the biggest problems moles cause is dead grass patches. As moles tunnel under a lawn they disrupt the root system of turfgrass and create patches that start out yellow and eventually turn light tan. If they do this damage in the summer, these tunnels usually give them away. Moles prefer to burrow right at the surface, pushing topsoil and grass up as they go along. They also make mole hills in random locations. These are hard to miss on a beautiful summer day, but during the spring in Maine, these surface tunnels can be hidden by snow. They can also go unnoticed because we don’t spend as much time outside in the early spring as we do in late spring and summer. So there will be less opportunity to catch the problem early.
Here are a few ways you can avoid finding mole damage after the snow vanishes:
Keep your lawn as dry as possible. While it is definitely important to water your turfgrass, over watering can create conditions that invite moles into your yard.
Mole problems often start as a grub problem. If you take measures to quickly address grub issues when they appear, it will go a long way to preventing a mole infestation in your yard.
Get ongoing pest control from a trustworthy pest control company. When you have an educated professional apply appropriate treatments throughout the year, they’re going to see the evidence of invading moles and deal with the issue quickly.
Here are a few ways that do not work to stop moles:
While moles are omnivores, they prefer earthworms, grubs, and bugs. Protecting your garden and flowerbeds will not deter moles from coming into your yard.
When mole hills appear in your yard, you’re not likely to have any success trying to flood those tunnels with your garden hose. Moles will quickly and easily escape to build even more tunnels in your yard.
Purchasing mole baits or attempting to apply other pest control methods seldom works. Mole infestations are a complicated pest control problem. When not handled properly, it can not only lead to continued infestation, it can result in increased infestation.
As we head into winter, remember that every season of the year is a good time to begin ongoing pest service. Bugs and wildlife can be active all year long. Proper treatments from an educated and experienced pest control technician, in the proper seasons, makes a big difference for your yard, and for your home.
While moles are mostly a lawn pest, other bugs and wildlife can present much more of a threat. When you have ongoing pest service protecting your lawn from moles, you’ll be protecting yourself, your family, and your pets from diseases and harmful bacteria. You’ll be protecting your home and your belongings from damage. And you’ll be proactively preventing unwanted bites and stings.
To learn more, or to establish service for your Southern Maine home, reach out to Big Blue Bug Solutions today.
Illustration by Sam Woolley/GMG
Welcome back to Burning Questions. Today’s letter writer just wants to take care of their skin health—but one of their moles is in a very private location.
My family medical history dictates that I get moles checked from time to time. I think I have one in my buttcrack, but CANNOT bring myself to display it at the dermatology office. Can’t I please just assume it’s totally fine?
OK, first the bad news. The doctors I asked confirmed: you can’t get your mole checked unless you actually, you know, get your mole checked. The American Cancer Society recommends regular skin exams by a dermatologist for people with a family history of melanoma, and there isn’t really an alternative that compares. You’re probably already doing monthly self-checks with a mirror, and you could probably snap a very awkward selfie to get some idea of what’s down there. But eventually you’ll have to visit your doc and reveal all.
Dr. Michael Reitano, physician in residence at men’s health service Roman, has a solution that he finds can reduce embarrassment, although personally I would think asking about this setup would make me more self conscious? But it’s something to consider. He says that people often feel better about exposing a body part if they can keep everything else covered. So ask the doctor or office staff if they can give you a gown to change into (ideally one that closes at the front and back).
Then, to keep things even more private, a nurse could have you lay down on the exam table “with the use of carefully draped cloths” and just reveal the necessary area when the doctor needs to see it. “A mere inch or two of exposed skin revealing the mole alone would be adequate for the dermatologist to see, evaluate, and even perform a biopsy.” After that, you will hopefully feel comfortable enough to do the rest of your exam in the usual way.
Whether you ask for this setup or not, it may also help to ask your partner or a family member to come with you. Obviously this should be someone whose presence while you have your butt exposed will make you less embarrassed, not more. I recommend someone with a good sense of humor.
That’s it for today, but you can ask me any of your weird health questions at [email protected] or drop them into the anonymous form at bethskw.sarahah.com. Here’s wishing you a healthy buttcrack in the new year.
Removing Moles and Skin Tags
Moles are skin growths made up of cells that produce color (pigment). A mole can appear anywhere on the skin, alone or in groups. Most people get a few moles during their first 20 years of life. They are usually brown in color but can be blue, black, or flesh-colored. Most moles are harmless and don’t cause pain or other symptoms unless you rub them or they bump against something.
Skin tags are small, soft pieces of skin that stick out on a thin stem. They most often appear on the neck, armpits, upper trunk, and body folds. The cause of skin tags is not known. They are harmless.
Why remove a mole or skin tag?
Most moles and skin tags don’t require treatment. But sometimes people want to remove them for cosmetic reasons or because they cause discomfort when they rub against clothing or get caught in jewelry.
Check with your doctor if you have a mole that looks different from your other moles. He or she may need to do a biopsy of the mole, which means removing the mole and sending it to a lab to check it for cancer.
Your doctor may remove a mole or skin tag in any of these ways:
- Cutting it off. Skin tags may be snipped off with a scalpel or surgical scissors. Some moles can be “shaved” off flush with the skin. Other moles may have cells that go underneath the skin, so your doctor might make a deeper cut to remove the entire mole and prevent it from growing back. This cut may require stitches.
- Freezing it with liquid nitrogen. Your doctor will swab or spray a small amount of super-cold liquid nitrogen on the mole or skin tag. You might have a small blister where the mole or skin tag was, but it will heal on its own.
- Burning it off. An electric current passes through a wire that becomes hot and is used to burn off the upper layers of the skin. You may need more than one treatment to remove a mole. Skin tags are removed by burning through the narrow stem that attaches them to the skin. The heat helps prevent bleeding.
The procedure may hurt a little, but your doctor will numb the area with an anesthetic before he or she begins. If the procedure causes any bleeding, your doctor may apply a medicine that helps stop the bleeding. Then he or she will put a bandage on it. These procedures usually leave no scars or marks.
Home remedies, such as using nail clippers to cut off skin tags or lotions and pastes to remove moles, may cause bleeding, infection, and scarring. And it’s important that your doctor check moles before they are removed. It’s much safer to have your doctor remove your moles and skin tags for you.
Mole Removal Basics: When to Contact a Dermatologist vs. a Plastic Surgeon
June 8, 2016 |In Plastic Surgery Tips |By Bahram Ghaderi
While moles don’t usually require treatment, many mole removals are done for cosmetic and comfort reasons. Often, this is done by a dermatologist, but more advanced mole removal or removal in more visible areas may need to be done by a plastic surgeon.
A dermatologist and plastic surgeon often go about mole removal in one of three ways. A mole can be cut or shaved off with surgical scalpel. Some moles have cells that are under the skin and may need a deeper cut. For this type of procedure, you may want to consider a plastic surgeon for a favorable outcome. Plastic surgeons will focus on minimizing scarring and you may need sutures. Scarring is inevitable with any cut into the skin. However, with proper treatment, the wound will heal and eventually appear almost scarless.
Moles can also be removed by “freezing” them off with liquid nitrogen. Super cold liquid nitrogen is applied to the mole and the mole skin tissue falls away. You may get a blister from this procedure but that will heal. If you’re concerned about blistering and scarring from the liquid nitrogen, this may be another area where you’d want to seek out a qualified plastic surgeon.
Alternatively, moles removal by “burning” is another method. An electric wire is used to burn through the upper layers of the skin and may require more than one treatment. Laser treatment is also available and usually reduces scarring. With laser treatment a scab will form and the area will be slightly red, but the scab will fall off and redness will reduce over time. Laser treatments cannot treat a deep mole, as they do not penetrate deeply enough.
Anytime you need a mole removed from a sensitive area, such as near your eyes, your eyelids, or other locations on your face and mouth, consider using a plastic surgeon skilled in not only mole removal, but also in minimizing scarring. Plastic surgeons are also skilled at skin resurfacing or scar revision procedures, should any of those be necessary.
Here are a few items to check with your dermatologist or plastic surgeon if you’re proceeding with mole removal. First, find the dermatologists or plastic surgeon’s level of experience in mole removal, and how often there are complications. Ask which of the techniques listed above will be used to remove the mole. Ask if the mole will be completely removed or will traces of it remain, especially in the cases of cutting or shaving. Finally, determine what you should expect in terms of post-op scarring and how the doctor plans to minimize that.
If you’re ready to proceed with the removal of a mole, contact St. Charles Plastic Surgery today to set up a consultation.