dermatologist Archives | Dr Anastasia Therianou

Skin Moles to worry About

Skin Moles To Worry About

How do you know if a skin mole is dangerous? And is it best to remove raised and worried moles? Most moles are harmless, but as around 20 to 30 percent of cancerous moles develop in existing skin tags, knowing what to look out for is essential in the early detection of melanoma. While mole removal is relatively simple, it’s vital to act quickly if a skin tag is a threat to your health.

Moles are very common and most of us have one or more. They are concentrations of pigment-producing cells (melanocytes) and people with light skin tend to have more skin tags than people with darker skin. While freckles tend to emerge in childhood and adolescence, they change in size and color as we grow. New skin tags often occur when we are going through hormonal changes, such as during pregnancy.

Most benign skin tags are small and usually brown, tan, or pink with a distinct edge and symmetrical shape. A raised freckles may bother you if it affects your appearance but it is not necessarily a sign of melanoma unless it was previously flat. If you notice changes in your freckles or new, unusual skin tags that are rapidly increasing in size, it is time to get your skin tag checked by a dermatologist.

The A-B-C-D-Es is a simple way of checking your skin tags.

A is for asymmetrical. A skin tag with an irregular size shape is abnormal. It should be round or oval, with both sides matching if you were to draw a line through the middle.

B is for the border. Does your skin tag have an irregular, scalloped, blurry or jagged border? Common moles tend to have even borders.

C is for color. Does your skin moles have uneven color or multiple colors? Benign skin tags are a single color but melanoma may have different shades of brown, tan, or black. Red, white or blue may also appear in a melanoma.

D is for diameter or dark. Are your freckles larger than a pea? If so you will need to get it checked. Equally, any mole that is darker than others could be a sign of melanoma.

E is for evolving. Has your skin condition changed recently? Familiarise yourself with the appearance of your moles so you can notice changes as they occur.


Standout moles

Most normal skin moles resemble one another, whereas melanomas standout from the rest like an ‘ugly duckling’. To compare any suspicious skin tags to the ones around it. Is it larger, smaller, lighter, or darker than your other skin tags? Equally a mole that has no other moles near it could be a warning sign of melanoma.

Other Skin Moles

An itchy mole, along with other changes like crusting, oozing, and bleeding can be a sign of melanoma. However, itchiness can sometimes be caused by irritation of nerves in the skin due to exposure to the sun. Products applied to your skin, dryness of your skin, or the rubbing of a raised mole by your clothing or a seatbelt.

Be vigilant

As skin cancer comes in many forms it’s important to monitor your skin moles and watch out for any changes to them, any that become sore, larger, or become swollen or newly itchy. Also, look out for any new skin moles or freckles. While it’s normal for new skin moles to appear up to the age of 40, beyond that age it is a worrying sign. Check your skin for changes every month and have a yearly mole checkup with your dermatologist.

Harmless Mole removal

You can have a skin tag removed if you don’t like the way it looks or it irritates you. You may have a raised or unsightly freckles that affect your appearance, gets irritated when it rubs against your clothes, or gets in the way when you shave or get dressed. It is important that the doctor chooses the best surgical technique for 2 reasons: for removing the existing mole successfully but also for the best cosmetic result.

If you are worried about skin moles or unhappy about their appearance, I can give you peace of mind. I’m able to give the majority of my patients a clear answer about what their skin lesion is and only when necessary will I recommend removing the skin tag for analysis (testing it under the microscope). I am able to remove moles using techniques that leave minimal scarring. Contact me, Dr Anastasia Therianou, consultant dermatologist for hair loss and mole problems.

What is a dermatologist?

Dermatologists diagnose and treat skin conditions like skin tags or atypical moles, hair loss, and nail diseases. To become a dermatologist you have to be medically qualified just like any other doctor, and then train in general medicine. A dermatologist will then work, research and training in a specialist area, developing expertise in a dermatological sub-specialty. The whole process takes about 15 years.

Dermatologists treat over 3,000 skin diseases, including acne, psoriasis, and skin cancers, plus a huge variety of nail and hair conditions.

As well as prescribing topical and oral treatments, dermatologists are trained to carry out skin surgery, laser treatments, and more. With such expertise dermatologists are the best people to diagnose and treat your medical condition.

Skin conditions

Common reasons for referral to a dermatologist include eczema, psoriasis, and severe acne, acne scars. But the skin is a complex organ and there are in fact over 3,000 skin diseases, with about 20 of them accounting for the vast majority of dermatologists’ workload. In recent years skin cancers have increasingly been added to this workload, due in part to holidays abroad and the erroneous belief that tanned skin is healthy. There are also many underlying systemic diseases that manifest as skin rashes.

dermatologist moles
How you can identify the type of moles

Nail conditions

Fungal infections are a very common nail condition treated by dermatologists. Beyond infections, a dermatologist can also diagnose a range of abnormal growths within the nail. Some of these nail growths can be benign but may also be viral warts, fibroid tumors, or malignant growths. Symptoms and signs of nail conditions can include discoloration, scaling, or the nail ‘lifting’ so it is no longer completely attached.

nails dermatologist
Nails problem diagnosis

Hair conditions

A dermatologist is the best person to diagnose and provide hair loss treatments, which can be the result of a wide variety of conditions. These include anemia, androgenetic alopecia, alopecia areata, male pattern baldness, hair follicles, female pattern, and many different autoimmune diseases, thyroid disorders, traction, and baldness. Female hair loss can also occur as a result of polycystic ovary syndrome, after pregnancy and during menopause.

hair loss problems
Hair loss problems

What can a dermatologist diagnose?

Many scalps, hair, and nail conditions can be diagnosed by a thorough physical examination. The consultant will also review your medical history, ask about the symptoms, and examine the affected area.

In some cases, certain tests such as dermoscopy, a blood test, a skin swab, or skin biopsy may be necessary for diagnosis, or a trichometry or trichoscopy with video dermatoscopy.

You should seek medical advice when you first notice a medical condition. Consult your GP first for common problems such as mild acne, rosacea, and minor rashes.

They may refer you to a dermatologist near if specialist diagnosis and treatment is required. Seeking a consultation early will help reduce the potential risks and complications that may arise due to the dermatological condition.

I am a consultant dermatologist at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, a big teaching medical team in hospital in central London.

While I cover general dermatology including acne, psoriasis, and eczema, my areas of particular interest are hair and nail disorders, skin cancers, and complex skin diseases.

I am one of the few London dermatologists in the UK who specialize in hair loss. Dr. Anastasia Therianou is a hair loss expert and mole, problem expert. To arrange a consultation book an appointment with me in my dermatology clinic in Harley Street.

To book an appointment or to request more information click here and please fill out the form and we will contact you shortly.

How can I stop hair falling out?

Hair falling out can be extremely distressing if you are losing a large amount of hair, or if it looks like you are. 

It is of course normal to shed up to 100 hairs per day. As there are 100,000 hair follicles or more on your scalp, this hair loss does not make a big difference to the appearance of your hair, unless you have long hair, in which case it might look like you are losing more. 

But if you are losing more than 100 hairs a day this is more likely to be noticeable and there may be an underlying issue causing your hair falling out.  

Excessive daily hair shedding (telogen effluvium) is not caused by genetic predisposition – male or female pattern baldness that tends to run in the family – but occurs as a result of a number of possible factors, including nutritional deficiency, a medical condition or stress. Let’s look at those causes and how to mitigate them.

#1 Diet

Following a very strict diet can be linked to hair loss, as can crash dieting. The best advice is to follow a balanced diet, with meat, fish, fresh vegetables and fruit – the Mediterranean diet, for example.

#3 Menstruation

Women who have a heavy period can experience chronic anaemia, which can in turn cause hair loss. A visit to your GP and a blood test will help you find out if you need to increase your iron intake.

#4 Motherhood

A new mother will notice excessive hair shedding about two months after giving birth. This is quite normal and is only a temporary problem, lasting at most a few months.

#5 Stress

People who are constantly under a great deal of stress can experience long-term hair shedding, so it’s important to find ways to mitigate the stress, such as meditation, yoga and mindfulness. A short-term stressful experience, such as losing your job, can lead to temporary hair falling out. 

#6 Sunbathing

If you are experiencing hair loss it’s important to avoid exposing your scalp to the sun as this can cause your hair loss to increase.

#7 Birth control

Some forms of birth control can affect normal hair growth, causing or exacerbating hair falling out. If you are using Norethindrone, Marvelon, Progestin implants/injections or Ortho Evra skin patches, discuss alternatives with your GP.

#8 Tight hair styles

Wearing your hair tightly pulled back can eventually lead to hair loss. Harsh hair care products can also be a factor. Avoid tight hairstyles – tight ponytails, braiding, corn rows, hair extensions and dreads – especially if you are noticing patches of hair fall.

#9 Supplements

If you take multivitamins it’s important to be careful. Taking excessive amounts of some vitamins, such as vitamin A, can cause increased hair loss. So you may need to adjust your dosage.

#10 Medication

Some drugs can cause hair loss. If you take antiepileptics, antivirals, anticoangulants, antipsychotics, antidepressants, antimalarials, antithyroid drugs, beta-blockers or retinoids, discuss alternatives with your practician.

#11 Smoking

Both active and passive smoking can cause this problem. Smoking has been proven to increase the androgen levels at the follicular level, worsening androgenetic alopecia – male or female pattern baldness. So give up smoking and stay away from smokers.

For more information on the causes of hair loss:

If you have ruled out these factors and you are still experiencing excessive hair falling out, you need to see an expert.

To arrange a consultation book an appointment with me, Dr Anastasia Therianou, expert in dermatological care for hair loss and mole problems!

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