Also called nevi, moles are overgrowths of pigmented skin cells, typically raised above surrounding skin and appearing brownish or pinkish. While most moles are harmless, some can be a sign of skin cancer. Moles should always be carefully evaluated before removal, and they should never be removed at home.
Once the mole has been evaluated and determined to be benign (noncancerous), several methods are available for removal:
No, moles that don’t cause bleeding or other symptoms can be left alone, but they should be evaluated to ensure they aren’t cancerous. Having routine skin cancer screenings is an important step in ensuring moles are evaluated and monitored for changes in size, shape or coloration that could indicate cancer.
Warts are caused by a virus that gets under the skin and multiplies. While there are over-the-counter treatments, these products are largely ineffective, failing to reach the deeper layers of skin where the virus is rooted. That means while the superficial “evidence” of a wart may disappear, the virus is still present and can cause future outbreaks. Professional treatment with topical medications and other in-office treatments like freezing or “burning” the wart away are much more effective in destroying the virus and stopping outbreaks.
Cysts are fluid-filled sacs that form under the skin when skin cells or other debris become trapped and cause irritation. Without medical intervention, cysts can become larger and eventually rupture, causing pain and more widespread irritation and even infection. Most cysts can be treated by draining them, with antibiotics used as needed to prevent infection. Suspected cysts should always be evaluated to confirm a diagnosis and ensure the lump is not an early sign of skin cancer.
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