A mole, medically referred to as melanocytic nevus, is a round or oval skin lesion or growth that is either flesh-colored, brown, black, or yellow. It’s made up of a cluster of melanocytes which are pigments responsible for giving skin its color. They may be rough, flat, slightly raised, or even have hair growing out of them.
Moles typically appear by the first 30 years of a person’s life so it’s not out of the ordinary to find that you have 10-40 moles in your adulthood. Some are present at birth and they are referred to as congenital moles. They appear on any part of the body including palm, soles, eyelids, ears, scalp or groin area. Moles often change in appearance, getting darker or fading over time while others do not change whatsoever.
Most moles are harmless and removing them is quite unnecessary but if you wish to get rid of them, both medical and home remedies are available. In rare cases, moles may be an indication of skin cancer (melanoma) so look out for any unusual changes and consult a doctor for verification.
What Causes Moles?
The cells responsible are melanocytes which are found in the two upper layers of the skin and produce melanin, the pigment that gives your skin its color. When these melanocytes grown in clusters instead of being evenly distributed throughout the skin, they form moles.
Moles, especially dysplastic moles, develop as a result of the genes we inherit from our parents. They may be a little larger than ordinary moles with irregular shapes.
Exposure to sunlight causes an increase in the number of moles on the skin. This is why they tend to appear on areas of the body often exposed to the sun such as neck, hands, arms, chest and the face. However, you should note that sunspots caused by severe sunburn are not moles. Moles may also grow in number or change appearance due to an imbalance in hormone levels. This often happens during pregnancy, adolescence or as people age.
Protect your skin from direct exposure of UV rays to prevent the appearance of more moles. This exposure also puts existing moles at risk of evolving into cancerous ones. Wear sunscreen with at least 30SPF if you must step out into the hot sun. You should also cover existing moles with clothing or a wide-brimmed hat. Seek shade or stay indoors between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun is at its hottest.
How to Get Rid of Moles?
As aforementioned, moles require no treatment but may be removed if melanoma is suspected. You may also want to do away with them if they catch onto clothing or they may make it difficult for you to shave.
Getting a mole professionally removed is the fastest and most effective remedy. Trying to use medical techniques to remove moles on your own could result in bleeding, scarring, developing infections, or even overlooking a cancerous mole.
There are a number of techniques used by doctors to remove moles:
- Surgical Shaving-This is a procedure where the mole is cut off from the surface of the skin using a blade or scalpel. The area surrounding the mole is numbed with local anesthesia so you will not feel pain except when the anesthesia is injected. No sutures are needed but it may leave as a small scar behind.
- Surgical Excision or Biopsy- The mole and the area surrounding it of healthy tissue is cut out with a scalpel or a punch device to prevent it from growing back and stitches are done to close the skin up. This method is often used to test if melanoma has spread to other parts of the skin.
- Cauterization- A tool that discharges high electrical frequency is used to burn off the mole and reduce its chances of ever growing back. This procedure is only used with small non-cancerous moles so larger ones are out of the question.
- Cryotherapy- The mole is frozen off using liquid nitrogen and it eventually falls off. It should only be used for non-cancerous moles since frozen tissue cannot be tested in the lab for melanoma.
- Laser Mole Removal- The mole is removed by a doctor or dermatologist using a laser. This is a painless process that does not leave scars behind but consult your doctor to ascertain whether it’s the appropriate option for you.
Medical solutions for non-cancerous moles are easy out-patient procedures that only require a couple of minutes.
If you wish to avoid surgery and other medical procedures and go for less invasive solutions, home remedies are perhaps what you are looking for. These are natural treatments you can undertake on your own in the comfort of your home. However, consult a doctor or a dermatologist to be doubly sure that the remedy is safe and effective. Otherwise, picking a wrong treatment may result in irritations, scarring and possible skin damage.
The most widely used remedies include:
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It is widely assumed that when garlic is applied periodically onto a mole, it will fade away after some time. Garlic contains enzymes that may break up the cell clusters that make up a mole. Cut up a fresh piece of garlic and wrap it onto the mole with a bandage overnight. Be warned that garlic may cause you skin burns.
You can use either manufactured aloe vera or the plant form to remove moles. Once you apply it, cover with a cotton bandage and let it stay undisturbed for about 3 hours. Before using aloe vera products, ensure you carry out an allergy test to ensure you don’t suffer allergic reactions.
Castor Oil and Baking Soda Mix
Make a paste of castor oil and baking soda and apply it to the mole. The baking soda dries out the mole while the castor oil provides protection for the skin. Do this for a few days and see if it works.
A banana peel contains acids and enzymes that may help get rid of a mole. A bonus is that it will double up as a moisturizer for your skin. Do this for about one hour every day and observe for any positive results.
Essential oils work by drying the mole through absorbing its oils. Eventually, it scabs and drops away. They must be used with carrier oils such as coconut oil or castor oil since their potency might irritate the skin. Examples of essential oils that you may use for a mole include frankincense oil, tea tree oil, and oregano oil.
Potatoes are a natural bleaching agent for the skin. They do not exactly get rid of moles but they make it fade away. Cut up potato slices and place them on moles for around an hour every day.
It works much the same way as potatoes do by bleaching the mole to make it less conspicuous.
Applying iodine frequently for a couple of weeks will cause a mole to flake off. Take care not to use a solution that is not too concentrated since iodine burns the skin. As an added precaution, apply petroleum jelly on the surrounding skin to protect it. Avoid using it on broken skin to avoid causing unnecessary pain. It’s also toxic so take extra care while handling it.
Flaxseed oil has bleaching properties that make it effective in ridding skin blemishes such dark spots so it is also helpful in making moles fade away.
Additional home remedies may include honey, apple cider vinegar, and hydrogen peroxide.
If you experience skin irritations as a result of trying out these home remedies, don’t hesitate to stop using them immediately! Irritations and allergic reactions may end up causing much more unsightly scars than even the moles themselves. Seek advice from a dermatologist on alternative means of getting rid of the moles.
Read more: Age Spots: Causes, Prevention and Treatment