All have seen or had them, but prenatal mothers may be new to realize the prevalence of moles during pregnancy.
Moles form when pigment cells, accurately known as melanocytes, bundle together toward the skin’s surface layer. Pictures of common moles can be found below. Let us explore the relationship betwixt moles and pregnancy.
Development of Moles During Pregnancy
Commonly, the majority of moles develop on the skin prior to birth or before the age of 30. These are termed congenital melanocytic nevi. During periods of hormonal upheaval—think puberty and pregnancy—melanocytic nevi may establish.
So, are moles during pregnancy normal? Indisputably. In fact, doctors accredit this to hormonal changes amid many pregnancies. Individuals may see new moles or enlargement of current ones. However, there are some advancements to be wary of…
Atypical (dysplastic nevi) moles hold the parallel side of the equation regarding new mole developments. These are aberrant moles, often holding irregular shapes or colors, per those seen in the images below. These are benign (noncancerous) but pose a greater risk for the individual to develop melanoma. Dysplastic nevi may require a biopsy and/or removal to eradicate any cancerous risk.
Where May They Develop?
In pregnancy, it is common for new, benign moles to manifest in particular areas of the female body as well as the growth of other moles.
For women, the commonplace of these nevi (moles and markings on the skin) may vary but they’re frequently found on intimate areas such as on the breasts, on the areolas, on the labia, and on the vulva. They may also transpire throughout the face and stomach.
Yet, moles have a tendency to change or develop during pregnancy.
Causes of Moles During Pregnancy
Medical professionals believe this is due to hormonal changes. Estrogen and progesterone are two hormones that surge during pregnancy. In turn, they stimulate melanocytes (melanin producing cells). Inside these cells, melanin (pigment) is formed and deposited into melanosomes; these gather around the cell nucleus – protecting it from UV light and producing the dark coloring we know as a mole.
It is theorized that they are in cahoots with increased blood volume thus increased blood flow during pregnancy. Due to this increased blood flow, oil glands become more active, and, in addition to moles, other skin conditions such as chloasma (yellow patches on the skin) may surface.
The interrelationship between moles and hormones in pregnancy explains the reasoning pertaining to the disappearance of new moles post gestation period.
Should You See A Doctor?
While true that the majority of moles don’t involve health risks, there are some extenuating circumstances that entail a physicians professional opinion.
When to Consult a Physician
The following predicaments warrant an appointment at the clinic:
- Irregular shape
- Color changes, purple, red, black, or yellowing
- Redness and inflammation
- Bleeding, oozing, or crusting on the mole
- Increased size
These symptoms should be examined by a doctor thanks to the affiliation between moles, melanoma, and skin cancer. Photos of melanoma can be seen here.
Mole Removal During Pregnancy
From cosmetic reasoning to health risks, there are several reasons for mole removal A diagnosis of the severity of a mole can be determined with a biopsy, done under local anesthetic. Luckily, this is safe during pregnancy.
After careful consideration and examination by a doctor or dermatologist, a mole can be removed in two ways.
Surgical Excision requires careful incision below the subcutaneous fat layer, removing the mole wholly. This layer of skin is below the dermis and epidermis, detailing that the depth of incision is much like traditional surgery, requiring stitches. After removal, the mole is examined for cancerous cells. If found, it’s likely the patient will be subjected to further tests.
Shave Excision is a similar procedure but far less intensive. A surgeon will often use a combination of lignocaine and prilocaine numbing cream before using a razor tool to, effectively, shave the mole off. This is for lesser moles and doesn’t require stitching. Similarly to surgical excision, the mole may be analyzed further to rule out cancerous complications.
Due to the detrimental effects of a sinister mole, it is smart to undergo removal as opposed to allowing it to remain in the skin. Removal procedures are non-invasive and don’t affect areas of the pregnancy. The surgeons and doctors involved should be aware of the patients’ pregnancy to take extra precautions.
Skin cancer is unlikely but a feasible finding after examination of a mole. The melanoma will be removed using one of the procedures listed above and often this removes further spreading of cancer. However, in some cases, when the melanoma has spread deeper into the skin. This requires expeditious treatment, even during pregnancy.
Interferon therapy is a type of pregnancy safe immunotherapy. Naturally, interferon is produced by the body to stimulate the immune system, but in the case of high-risk melanoma, it can be artificially synthesized as a drug treatment.
Radiation therapy is possible for melanoma that is closer to the face and neck but is avoided in lower body areas of pregnant women due to radiation risks to the fetus. Exposure to radiation can result in birth defects.
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