There’s a new dermatologist in town, and she is fantastic. Allison Triplitt is incredibly well-trained. She did a pediatrics residency, a dermatology residency AND a pediatric dermatology fellowship. (Most dermatologists haven’t done a fellowship, and I don’t know ANY who have done a pediatrics residency to boot!) So when we had a reader request for mole info I knew where to turn. Thanks Dr. Triplitt!
Moles are collections of pigment-producing cells called melanocytes. They can be present at birth (congenital) or acquired throughout life. They differ from freckles because they have not only increased pigment, but also increased numbers of melanocytes. Moles may slowly change over time, particularly moles present since birth. Most moles will never cause a problem. However, a small number of moles can develop into melanoma, a very serious form of skin cancer. Therefore, it is important to monitor your mole once a month for rapid growth or change. It is also important to pay attention to the development of itch, pain, or bleeding, as these can be concerning signs. Another important concept is the “ugly duckling” rule. If one of your moles does not look like the others, it too, can be a worrisome sign.
Risk factors for developing melanoma:
- Blistering sunburns in childhood
- Tanning beds. One tanning bed exposure increases your risk of melanoma 75 fold!!!
- Family history of melanoma
- Numerous moles (>100 in adults)
- Red hair and/or fair skin
It is important to remember that childhood melanoma is quite rare, and only represents 2% of all melanomas, but it can occur. Therefore, it is important to use the ABCDE rules of melanoma to follow your moles.
A=Asymmetry. Does one side look like the other?
B=Border. Is the border even? Or is is blurred, notched, or jagged?
C=Color. Is the color homogenous and even? Or are there multiple colors such as black, blue, red or white?
D=Diameter. Is it larger than 5mm?
E=Evolving. Is it slowly changing as the child grows? Or is it rapidly changing over a period of a few months?
If you have questions about your moles, you may contact your pediatrician or dermatologist for an evaluation.
Allison Triplitt, MD
**Dr. Triplitt works with the University of Utah and sees patients at both ends of the valley. If you have any skin mysteries pay her a visit. 801-581-2955