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What exactly are moles?
Moles are actually dye marks, that is, skin lesions that have over-proliferated pigment cells called melanocytes. Melanocytes contain a dye - melanin, and its amount in individual cells may vary, and therefore the birthmarks formed from them differ in color. The average person has about 20 moles on the body - some occur from birth, others appear with age. Sometimes they disappear, sometimes new ones appear in their place.
Often, the reason for the formation of pigmented moles is UV exposure, among others while in the sun. Melanocytes found in birthmarks are cells from which it can develop one of the most malignant tumors - melanoma. That is why not only adequate and effective protection of the skin against excessive solar radiation is important, but also regular control of old and new moles.
Examination of the baby's skin - the "ugly duckling" and ABCDE methods
Just as in the fairy tale the ugly duckling differed in appearance from its siblings, so "ugly" birthmarks differ from their normal counterparts. Therefore, our vigilance should be raised by changes that at first glance stand out from the others:
- extra grown up
- accompanying redness.
If a birthmark begins to itch and the child often scratches them, it should also bother you. Changes with these characteristics are suspicious and should be checked as soon as possible by a specialist who will thoroughly examine them and dispel any doubts.
A more accurate method of assessing pigmented moles is to evaluate individual changes on the ABCDE scale. This is a five-point scale, in which each letter is assigned one feature about the appearance of a mole:
- A (asymmetry) - asymmetry - this feature means that every quarter of a given change should look the same, and asymmetrical changes give rise to suspicion;
- B (borders) - borders - the edges of the birthmark should be even and smooth, the same in all its circumference. Atypical changes, on the other hand, have jagged, uneven and difficult to trace boundaries;
- C (color) - the color should always be homogeneous, so a change in several colors with spots of a different color or an outer coating will be suspected;
- D (diameter) - diameter - the diameter of the birthmark should not exceed 5 mm, larger changes should cause concern;
- E (elevate) - protrusion - the lesion should be in the level of the skin, and if it clearly rises above the skin, it should be checked by a dermatologist.
Normal, unsuspecting birthmark is no more than 5 mm, symmetrical, not raised above the skin level, with clearly demarcated, even edges and a uniform color. Birthmarks that deviate from this description may be potentially dangerous, so it is always worth showing them to a doctor who will evaluate them carefully.
Be sure to go with your child for specialist check-up even if when soon some new changes appeared on his skin. This situation should always arouse your anxiety, and new birthmarks should be checked by a doctor to exclude their possible malignancy.
Visit to a dermatologist - how, when and why?
The best solution would be if your child's skin condition is pat least once a year, it will be checked by a dermatologist. If there are no disturbing changes, it is best to do it at the turn of the end of the holiday and the beginning of the school year.
There are two reasons for this: First of all, the most new birthmarks appear after strong or prolonged exposure to the sun, and secondly you will check the condition of the baby's skin after all summer adventures and trips, during which other dermatological problems, e.g. ringworm, may have contracted. Remember to consult with a specialist as soon as possible as suspicious, disturbing birthmark, as it may be a malignant or transformable lesion.
During the visit, the doctor will examine all moles on the baby's skin using a dermatoscope - a device that allows simultaneous lighting and enlargement of the part of the skin being viewed for an accurate assessment. This study is non-invasive and painless, however, it is necessary to check the birthmarks for potential malignancy. During the examination, the dermatologist will assess each pigmented birthmark, on the ABCDE scale we have already learned, and on this basis will decide on further treatment.
What to do next with peppers?
Further treatment of birthmarks depends largely on the assessment made with the help of a dermatoscope, the interview has only an auxiliary role.
If none of the moles are suspected by the doctor, he will certainly recommend only their systematic control and observation and the use of protection against excessive exposure to solar radiation.
Treatment, in the form of surgical removal of the lesion, is recommended by the doctor in relation to atypical and continuously irritating nevi, e.g. occurring in elbow and knee bends or on the neck in the collar region. The procedure for removing the lesion is performed under infiltrative (local) anesthesia and consists of its fusiform excision. The obtained specimen should always be sent for histopathological examination, which will answer the question, what change it was and whether it was cut out in its entirety. We usually wait about a month for the result of such examination and based on it, the specialist physician decides about further treatment with the patient.
When the birthmark turned out to be benign, further systematic monitoring of both lesions and scars after excision is recommended. In the event that a malignant or suspicious lesion is detected, it is necessary to carry out a more thorough diagnosis, on which the next therapeutic steps depend.
How to easily control the appearance of new changes?
Usually it is moles on the body are not too much and it's easy to notice the appearance of any additional changes on the baby's skin. However, when more and more of them increase over time, it begins to cause more and more difficulties, especially when they start to be wrong. Fortunately, there is a simple and effective way to do it - all you have to do is photograph the baby's skin so that you can immortalize all visible marks in the pictures. It is best to take photos of birthmarks so that they cover all visible e.g. on the front of the forearm, and if necessary, also zoom in. A ruler should also be attached to the largest of them, thanks to which you can check if they have not been enlarged at any time. From time to time, it is enough to examine the baby's skin and compare it with the photographs taken, and it will certainly significantly facilitate control and will not miss the appearance of any new birthmarks. You can always take such photographs for a visit to a dermatology clinic, especially if a change disturbs you - in this way the doctor will have a comparison of her previous and current appearance, which will greatly facilitate his assessment and planning further proceedings.
So remember that due to the prophylaxis against malignant melanoma, control of pigmented nevi occurring on the baby's skin is very important. Now, after reading the article, you already know how to properly examine changes, which of them should bother you and be necessarily consulted with a dermatologist, as well as what to do in case of suspected of malignant changes. Adequate protection against excessive exposure to solar radiation and regular and meticulous control of moles on the skin of a toddler can ensure his safety and reduce the chances, also in the future, of developing a malignant skin cancer, which is melanoma.