Checking your moles: Why is it important?
24th January 2019
If you have lots of moles, you probably already know the importance of checking them for changes and abnormalities, especially if your skin has been exposed to the sun. But do you know exactly what it is you’re looking for?
Why should you check your moles?
There have been concerning developments around the use of apps to check the condition of their moles. A particular concern of this was highlighted by The Sun, stating that certain apps failed to flag a concern about red, crusty, scaly or ulcerated moles – a common sign of melanoma (read more here: https://www.thesun.co.uk/fabulous/6704139/skin-cancer-apps-spot-cancerous-moles-claims-risk-deadly-melanoma/)
While some people may think that they are doing the right thing by ‘checking’ their moles via an app, this should never replace the need for a consultation with a doctor or an experienced medical professional in this area if you feel you need to seek advice on a lesion.
An app will not be able to detect the changes in the shape, colour and texture of your moles that can be a sign of a type of skin cancer known as melanoma. Early detection is key: the sooner melanoma is diagnosed, the better your prognosis is likely to be, so keeping track of what is ‘normal’ for your moles is important - and could save your life.
What to look for when checking a mole
When carrying out a mole check, you are looking for specific changes in the mole’s appearance and texture. A good way of remembering exactly what to look for is to follow the ABCDE method, as recommended by the NHS:
Does one half of the mole mirror the other half, or is each side a different shape?
A healthy mole is usually round and symmetrical in shape. An asymmetrical mole (i.e. a mole that is NOT symmetrical) could be a sign of melanoma.
Is the outside edge of the mole uneven or jagged in appearance?
Melanomas tend to have an uneven or irregular edge, whereas a normal, healthy mole is more likely to have a smooth, even edge.
Is the mole an uneven colour?
A normal, healthy mole is usually fairly uniform in colour. A melanoma may have two or three shades of brown, black, red or pink, giving the mole a blotchy appearance.
Is the mole larger than 6mm across?
A melanoma is usually larger than 6mm in diameter, but this is not a definite sign of a cancerous mole; it may be smaller.
Has the mole changed colour or shape?
A melanoma may ‘evolve’ or change in shape, colour, size and texture over time, becoming more raised above the surface of the skin. The actual mole itself may still look normal, but the area underneath and surrounding it could be inflamed or swollen.
Itching and bleeding moles
If your mole is itchy, crusty, or bleeds spontaneously (i.e., without it being cut or scratched), this may be a sign that the mole is cancerous and it should be checked by a doctor.
Keeping track of your moles
It’s a good idea to examine your skin and moles regularly, especially if you are often exposed to the sun, as this greatly increases your risk of developing skin cancer. Remember to keep a check on areas that aren’t always visible, such as the soles of your feet, buttocks and back. If you have lots of moles in hard-to-see places, you might find Mole Mapping beneficial.
Treating and looking after your moles at sk:n
If you have any moles that are worrying you or you don’t like the look of, sk:n offers both Mole Mapping and Mole Removal to put your mind at ease. Mole Mapping is a brand new service available in 5 of our clinics across the country, giving you the benefit of being able to use digital technology to map moles on the body from head to toe. This service will identify any new moles and also check existing moles that show any signs of malignant melanoma or any surface changes. This service is currently available in Glasgow, Leicester, Liverpool, London Harley Street and London Wall. Off the back of the mole map, a consult dermatologist will identify any suspicious lesions and discuss with you the potential removal of any lesions.
To launch this new service we are offering the cost of a Mole Consultation and a Mole Map for £200, saving you £95. This offer is available until 28th February.
For more information on the services we offer to help you click here to read more about moles and what we can offer you here at sk:n