It’s important to have regular visits to your dermatologist to check for any changes in your skin however, it’s equally important to know what to look for yourself.
Diligence and a keen sense of observation are vital in noticing even the smallest of changes.
Skin cancer has become increasingly common and early detection is essential in fighting the disease. To help you out, we’re sharing a few tips on how to check your skin for any signs of malignancies.
What is a common mole?
Most adults have between 10 and 40 common moles, which are not cancerous. These moles can be on a variety of areas of the body, and are commonly found above the waist on areas that are frequently exposed to the sun. Moles are rarely found on the scalp, breast, or buttocks.
Unlike melanomas, common moles are typically on the smaller side, approximately 5 millimeters. These moles are normally round or oval in shape and are symmetrical. Common moles; will be even in color and can be pink, tan, or brown. While common moles can turn into melanoma, it is rare.
Checking Your Moles
When it comes to moles, you want to monitor them closely for any changes. You’ll want to note any changes in size, shape, color, or feel. These changes are the first signs of a possible melanoma. To make it easy, all you have to do is keep in mind the “ABCDE” rule.
- Asymmetry: Keep a close eye on the shape of your moles. Moles that are asymmetrical, meaning the shape of one half doesn’t match the other, are more likely to be melanoma.
- Border: Irregular borders are another sign of a possible melanoma. An irregular border can mean edges that are ragged or blurred.
- Color: Shades of black, brown, or tan may be present in these moles. You might also see spots of white, gray, red, pink, or even blue. Uneven color is also a sign of early melanoma.
- Diameter: Although melanomas can be small, they’re more likely to be larger than 6 millimeters in diameter. Track the size of your mole and notice any increases in size.
- Evolving: Note how quickly changes happen in your moles. Look for changes in size, shape, thickness, or color and how fast those changes took place.
Changes in Your Moles
Moles change over time, but you’ll want to keep an eye on just how they evolve. Watch for changes in color, shape, texture, height or if your mole feels dry or scaly. If you have any moles that becomes hard or feel lumpy, itch, bleed or ooze, be sure to check with your dermatologist right away. Only your dermatologist can determine whether or not the mole is safe or needs to be removed.
Reminder: Protect yourself.
If you’re planning to spend any time outdoors, whether it’s a sunny day or a cloudy day, you should always apply SPF. Daily sunscreen will help to protect you from harmful UVA/UVB rays that damage your skin. To ensure your skin stays healthy and looking youthful, apply a sunscreen with SPF 20 or higher.
Avoid the sun during peak hours (10 AM to 2 PM) and protect your skin in shaded areas. Make sure you wear protective clothing such as a hat and sunglasses to shield your skin and protect your eyes.
If you notice any skin irregularities, make sure you contact a dermatologist for a check-up. Your dermatologist will be able to determine if it’s a spot that needs to be removed or not.