The Importance Of Checking Your Moles

04.06.2020

It’s well known that if you have moles on your skin, then you should be keeping an eye on them and checking them from time to time. However, most of us don’t know what we need to be looking for and how to tell that something isn’t right. Do you know what you should do if you see one that is slightly unusual? If you see a mole that isn’t normal it could be a sign of melanoma. Every year in the UK alone we see around 16,200 new cases, that’s roughly 44 every day! It’s so important that we do everything possible to spot the signs as early as possible; melanoma is so much easier to treat when caught in the early stages. We’re going to use this post to teach you how and why to check your moles, and the steps you should take if you’re concerned about any of your moles.

The difference between moles and freckles

Moles and freckles are sometimes confused as they are both pigmented spots that appear on the body, however, there are some key differences. Freckles tend to be small, flat and light brown and usually appear on the skin after you have been exposed to the sun. Whereas a mole can be any colour from light brown to black and will appear on the skin for long periods of time. Moles aren’t normally associated with sunlight. Freckles are very common and for most people, you’ll have nothing to worry about.

Why should you check your moles?

Like we said for most people you’ll have nothing to worry about, but it’s important that you make note of any changes in the size, shape or colours as these could be early signs of melanoma. As we previously mentioned the earlier it is diagnosed the easier it is going to be treated, so it’s so important to check them regularly and track any changes you notice so you can get them checked by a GP.

What to look for?

As we said you should keep an eye out for changes in size, shape or colour and make note of any new moles that appear on your skin. Fortunately, the NHS has a really easy way of remembering what to look for, the ABCDE method:

  • A – Asymmetry: Does your mole look the same on both sides? A healthy mole should grow evenly so in general, it should be round.
  • B – Border: Are the edges of your mole jagged or have blurred edges? Healthy moles are rounder and smoother.
  • C – Colour: Does your mole have a mixture of colours/shades in it? A normal mole should be one uniform colour, ranging from light brown to black.
  • D – Diameter: Is your mole larger than a ¼ inch in diameter? If it is then it’s something you should be keeping an eye on and maybe getting in touch with your GP.
  • E – Evolution/Enlargement: Has your mole changed in any way? Whether it’s the shape, size or colour. has the appearance changed?

This is a basic guideline of what you should be looking for. If you notice swelling, spreading, bleeding, itching or crusting you should get it checked out as soon as possible.

Who’s at higher risk?

There are a number of characteristics and lifestyle choices that can increase your chances of developing melanoma, these include:

  • If you are exposed to high levels of UV light
  • You burn easily
  • You have naturally red or blonde hair
  • You or a family member has previously had melanoma
  • You have moles bigger than 6mm
  • You use a sunbed
  • You have pale skin or lots of freckles/moles

But the most important thing is keeping track of your moles and examining them on a regular basis. This is especially important in those summer months when you are exposed to the sun more often, as this will increase your risk of developing melanoma.

Treating your moles

If you find that anything has changed with any of your moles then the best thing you can do is go and get them checked straight away by a GP. That way you decrease the risk of them changing further, and if it does turn out to be anything more serious then the earlier it is checked the easier it is to be treated. Most people will have moles on their body and are completely harmless but make sure that you keep an eye on them and are constantly examining to see if there are any changes.

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