Moles – What to Look For
Moles are widespread skin growth, and most of us have at least a few of them. They are nothing to worry about in most cases, and we tend to forget we have them.
Unfortunately, moles can also be a sign of skin cancer or pre-cancer. Whereas most are harmless, if you notice any changes in a mole or develop a new one that looks different from the rest, it could be something you need to speak to a skin clinic or a doctor. It may well be nothing to be concerned about, but it pays to be vigilant with moles.
Existing moles can suddenly grow, develop hairs where there were none, change color or fade. Most of us are still developing new moles into our forties! Some changes are nothing to worry about, but others can signify that something isn’t right. Finding cancerous moles early on is key to treating skin cancer effectively. Don’t ever be worried about whether you’re wasting your doctor’s time by asking advice about a mole – they are happy to put your mind at rest and would much prefer you to come in needlessly than not come in until it’s too late.
The early signs of melanoma (a severe type of skin cancer) that you should get checked out include:
The mole looks uneven, and one half doesn’t seem to match the other.
The outside edges of the mole are ragged or blurred.
If the mole isn’t the same color all over, it could mean something is changing. It could be anything from tan, brown, and black or even red, white, and blue, but it’s a warning sign if the colors are blotchy.
If it’s larger than 6 mm (0.2 in.) across or suddenly starts to grow, it’s something you need to get checked out.
Any noticeable changes in size, shape, symptoms (itching or tenderness), surface (bleeding), or color is a must-watch.
Keep an eye on your moles – or ask someone else to – and regularly carry out a skin self-exam to identify any suspicious skin growths. You need to be examining your moles monthly and, if possible, visit a skin clinic for an expert to check them over once a year to be safe.
What to check for:
Look at your skin, including the scalp, and any existing moles, freckles, skin tags, or other skin growths to check for color, shape, size, and appearance changes.
If you’ve had any minor injuries, check the skin to see if it’s properly healed.
If you notice a changing or suspicious skin growth, get your doctor to check it out right away. A simple procedure might easily remove it and is nothing to worry about, which will stop it from growing and irritating the skin around it, getting caught on your clothes, or even spreading to other areas of the body.
Finding and treating skin cancer early can help prevent problems, so keep an eye on your skin lumps and bumps!
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