First, let me explain exactly what a dysplastic nevus is. Compared to regular moles, dysplastic nevi may be larger than a normal mole, have variations in color, or have irregular borders (see photo below).
So why is this important? Individuals with a large number of abnormal moles are at higher risk of developing melanoma. If you have had several biopsies that show an abnormal mole, there are things you can do to help prevent or detect melanoma:
- Wear sunscreen every day. Use at least SPF 30, and apply it every morning. If you are out in the sun, reapply sunscreen every two hours.
- Do a monthly exam of your own skin, looking for the ABCDs:
A – asymmetry. Normal moles are symmetric and round. Melanoma may be asymmetric.
B – borders. Normal moles have smooth, even edges. Melanoma may have irregular borders.
C – color. Normal moles are all one color. Melanoma may have darker areas within it, or even areas that appear red or blue.
D – diameter. Be suspicious of a mole that is larger than 5mm in diameter (the size of a pencil eraser).
Also look out for moles that are changing: the color or size may change, or the mole may become raised up, bleed, or itch.
- See your doctor yearly for a full skin exam.
But what about the dysplastic moles themselves? Do you need to have them removed?Each individual mole has only a very small risk of turning into melanoma, so you don’t have to have every strange-looking mole removed. But if any of the moles change in appearance, your doctor may want to biopsy them to rule out melanoma. This is why it is so important to check your moles regularly for change.