When Should You Get a Mole Screened?
Black, bulbous, and sometimes hairy, moles are something we’d rather not see on any part of our bodies. While they can be little more than a nuisance, moles can also be an ominous sign of something far more sinister. Melanoma, the rarest form of skin cancer, often first reveals itself through the appearance of moles. If you have any, it is imperative that you get them checked regularly lest they become cancerous. Here are some guidelines to follow when dealing with any moles you discover…
What is a Mole?
It never hurts to know what exactly you are dealing with. Moles are the result of small gatherings of cells on the surface of the skin. Together they form bumps that usually appear darker than the rest of the skin. Often they are raised, but they can be flat as well. Moles can also be hereditary, and while most appear by 30, excessive exposure to the sun can prompt mole growth in children.
Moles can also be classified into three different types:
Congenital Moles: Moles that appear at birth. Prone to becoming cancerous.
Acquired Moles: The most common type of mole. Appears as a result of excessive sun exposure, but less likely to become cancerous.
Atypical Moles: Moles that are larger than a pencil eraser and overall are strangely shaped.
Do you need to check moles regularly?
Most moles are harmless. Although unsightly, they typically don’t pose a threat. However, if melanoma skin cancer runs in your family, you must pay closer attention for any moles that may appear. Go for a checkup at least once a month. Moles that appear during adulthood are the most concerning, but it never hurts get be on the safe side with children as well. If you notice a mole that starts to bleed, ooze, itch, or burn, see a dermatologist immediately. Run, do not walk.
Know Your Mole ABCs (asymmetry, border, and color)
Checking yourself for moles is relatively simple. When looking at your skin in front of a mirror, you need to think about your ABCs. The ABCDE method is the most common way of self-checking for cancerous moles. Take heed, this could save your life.
A – Asymmetry. Two sides of your mole do not match up.
B – Border. The borders of your mole are jagged or blurred rather than smooth.
C – Color. Different colors are present on the mole. Look out for moles that appear to be a combination of brown, black, and tan. You do not want your mole to paint with all the colors of the wind, so get on that.
D – Diameter. Your mole’s diameter appears rather large, greater than the eraser end of a pencil particularly. If necessary, borrow a pencil from you’re kid’s backpack to double check, it’s better to be safe then sorry.
E – Evolving. Your mole changes in appearance over time.
If you have a mole that meets any of these criteria, visit your dermatologist and get it screened as soon as you can!
Moles run the gambit of harmless to cancerous. Even if your mole does not fall into the above categories, make sure to get it checked regularly to be on the safe side; you never know what could happen. Melanoma is deadly, but easy to catch and prevent early if you look at your skin actively. Notice an abnormal looking mole on your skin? Contact the nearest dermatologist to you as soon as possible!