Moles & The Sun

What are Moles?Mole mapping blog 2024

Skin moles, often referred to simply as moles, are common growths on the skin that can vary in size, shape, and color. While some moles are present at birth or develop during childhood, others may appear later in life, especially during periods of hormonal changes such as puberty or pregnancy. One factor that can influence the development and appearance of moles is exposure to sunlight.

UV Radiation from the sunshine is known to play a role in the formation of moles. UV radiation can penetrate the skin. This can cause changes in the DNA of skin cells, leading to alterations in cell growth and proliferation. Prolonged or intense exposure to UV radiation can increase the risk of developing moles, as well as other types of skin lesions such as freckles and sunspots.

The relationship between sun exposure and moles is complex and has so many layers. While some moles may develop as a direct result of UV exposure, others may darken or become more pronounced when exposed to sunlight. This phenomenon is known as solar lentigines or sun-induced hyperpigmentation. This means where existing moles or areas of pigmentation on the skin may darken or enlarge with sun exposure.

It’s important to note that not all moles are caused by sun exposure, and the presence of moles alone does not necessarily indicate an increased risk of skin cancer. However, excessive sun exposure, especially during childhood and adolescence, can contribute to the development of atypical or dysplastic moles, which may have irregular borders, uneven coloration, and a larger size than typical moles.

It’s important to note that not all moles are caused by sun exposure, and the presence of moles alone does not necessarily indicate an increased risk of skin cancer. However, excessive sun exposure, especially during childhood and adolescence, can contribute to the development of atypical or dysplastic moles, which may have irregular borders, uneven coloration, and a larger size than typical moles.

These types of moles are considered to be a risk factor for melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer.

To reduce the risk of developing moles and minimize the potential for sun-induced changes in existing moles, it’s so important to practice sun protection measures. This includes:

    1. Using sunscreen: Apply sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 30 or higher to all exposed skin, including areas with moles, and reapply every two hours or after swimming or sweating.
    2. Seeking shade: Limit direct sun exposure during peak sunlight hours, typically between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Seek shade whenever possible, especially if you have fair skin or a history of sunburns.
    3. Wearing protective clothing: Cover up with lightweight, tightly woven clothing and wide-brimmed hats. Try to wear sunglasses that offer UV protection to shield the skin from harmful sun rays.
    4. Avoiding tanning beds: Artificial UV radiation from tanning beds can also increase the risk of developing moles and skin cancer, so it’s best to avoid them altogether.
    5. Performing regular skin checks: Keep an eye on any existing moles for changes in size, shape, color, or texture. Consult a dermatologist if you notice any suspicious changes or new moles that appear after the age of 30.

By practicing sun-safe behaviors and being vigilant about monitoring changes in moles, you can help protect your skin from sun damage and reduce the risk of developing potentially harmful skin lesions. If you have concerns about your moles or skin health, don’t hesitate to seek guidance from a dermatologist for personalized advice and evaluation.

How to Identify a Problem with a Mole

Get your mole checked if:melanoma signs

Asymmetric: Odd shapes are worrisome.

Borders: Ill-defined, irregular or fuzzy.

Colour: Speckled, uneven or has a white halo.

Diameter: Larger than a pencil eraser.

Evolving: Getting bigger, or becoming strange to you in any way.

It’s important to note that not all atypical moles will display all of these characteristics, and the presence of one or more of these features does not necessarily mean that a mole is cancerous. However, these warning signs should prompt further evaluation by a dermatologist. They can perform a thorough skin examination and, if necessary, recommend a biopsy to determine if the mole is benign or malignant.

Individuals with a history of atypical moles or a family history of melanoma are at an increased risk of developing dangerous moles. If this is you, then you should be particularly vigilant about monitoring your skin for changes. Regular self-examinations and annual skin checks by a dermatologist are essential for early detection and treatment of potentially dangerous moles and skin cancer.

At Refine Clinic, we can help.

Dr. Natalia Bratu is highly educated and certified in Dermatology, including Skin Cancers. She is a registered IMC doctor who has more than 20 years of experience in Medicine. During this consultation with Dr. Natalia she will advise you as to whether she is concerned about the mole and whether an investigation will be required.

What happens during my consultation?

She will recommend a full excision or just taking a tissue sample. This will then be sent for tests, and depending on the results that come back, this will determine whether further treatment should be carried out.

We also offer a Mole Mapping Service. Mole mapping can be very important in the early detection of skin melanoma. To map your moles Dr. Natalia uses a state-of-the-art dermatoscope to analyze the skin to find any suspicious moles and track changes in moles over time.

The procedure is simple and usually takes no more than 30 minutes. It is a completely painless procedure and involves the affected area being photographed by the dermatoscope. These images are high quality and high resolution and will highlight any abnormalities.

Dr. Bratu will then determine whether further investigation or treatment is needed.

To book a consultation you can book online.

Call 01-5645926

Email info@refineclinic.ie

You can also contact us and we’ll get back to you.