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Why Home Mole-Removal Remedies Aren’t a Good Idea

If you have a mole that’s bothering you, you may be considering removing it yourself using an at-home method. However, there are several risks associated with at-home mole removal, so coming in for a consultation with Dr. Flood is much safer.

Exactly what is a mole, anyway?

Moles are clusters of melanocytes, a specific type of cell. Melanocytes make pigment, which is what makes your skin the color it is. Usually, melanocytes are spread around throughout your skin, but when they cluster together, they form moles.

Most people have some moles, and most of the time they develop during childhood. You’ll usually anywhere from 10 to 40 by the time you’re an adult. They may change over time by becoming raised or darkening.

Fewer people, about one in every one hundred, have moles that are called congenital nevi that are present at birth. Congenital nevi are a little more likely than other types of moles to develop into skin cancer.

You don’t know what you’re removing

One of the most important reasons you shouldn’t remove moles at home is that you probably don’t know what you’re removing. Dr. Flood has spent years studying the skin, and is trained to recognize a potentially dangerous mole.

There are checklists of what to look for to know if a mole might be cancerous, but in reality, the surest and safest way to know is to visit a trained, board-certified dermatologist for an exam. Using an at-home cream on a mole that indicates melanoma won’t make the melanoma go away, but it removes the means for it to be easily diagnosed at an early stage when treatment is most effective.

In fact, if you want to remove the mole because it has changed or because it’s large, you have even more reason to see Dr. Flood. Although it’s normal for moles to change color over time, a sudden change could indicate a problem, and moles that are larger than average — bigger than a pencil eraser — are called dysplastic nevi. People who have 10 or more dysplastic nevi have a higher risk of developing melanoma.

Unintended consequences

Even when a mole is removed by a trained, qualified dermatologist, you’ll probably have at least a small scar. When you remove a mole at home, regardless of the method, you may end up with a scar that looks worse than the mole did. Products that advertise “natural cauterization” are designed to burn the mole away — and probably leave a scar where it was.

Some products have ingredients that are designed to stimulate your skin to heal, which creates inflammation and can lead to a different type of scarring. After the mole is removed, you’re left with an indentation which could look worse than the mole.

An even more dangerous possibility is that of infection. The instructions that accompany some of these dubious products suggest using a nail file or other tool to remove some layers of the mole before applying the cream or gel. Doing so can make the scarring worse, and may also lead to an infection that could affect your overall health.

Safety first, when it comes to mole removal

Any moles that are potentially dangerous should be removed, and moles that are inconveniently located in places where they irritate or rub should be removed. Removing moles for cosmetic reasons is valid, too, but just let a professional remove it safely.

If you have a bothersome mole, schedule an appointment with Dr. Flood to have it checked out. He’ll evaluate it and offer you options to consider.

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