Moles are common with everyone and almost every adult has a few moles. Adults who have light skin often have more moles. They may have 10 to 40 moles on their skin. This is very normal and shouldn’t cause any type of worry or fear. However, a type of skin cancer called melanoma, can grow in or near a mole. If detected early and treated, melanoma can be cured.
The first sign is often a change to a mole or a new mole on your skin. Checking your skin can help you detect it early. A dermatologist can show you how to examine your skin and tell you how often you should check your skin. Moles should be checked every month for irregularities that might indicate problems.
Here are some things you should be looking for when you self-inspect the moles on your body;
- Colour Changes
The first sign of a potentially cancerous mole is a drastic change in colour—for instance, moles that are dark, brown, grey, or inconsistent in colour (i.e., black in the middle and tan, white, red, or pink) in patches or around the outside should be brought to your doctor’s attention.
- Inconsistency in shape
A mole that has inconsistencies—for example, it transitions in colour, shape, height, or surface texture might be dangerous or unhealthy and should be inspected by a medical professional.
- Blurred Boarder
Healthy moles have a defined border around the outside circumference. However, melanomas (or cancerous moles) tend to appear blurred or irregular around the outside edges. They can also feel raised to the touch with ragged, scalloped edges, and color may run into the surrounding tissues.
Any mole that causes pain or is tender to the touch should be considered dangerous, particularly if it exudes fluid or blood. Visit your doctor immediately for a skin exam.
Healthy moles don’t grow any larger in size than 6 millimetres (or ¼ inches) in width. If you have a mole that’s large or gradually growing in size, book a medical exam to determine if it’s cancerous. Healthy moles are usually symmetrical, which means they are equally sized (or both sides would match if folded in half). If you find one that’s uneven, you may want to get it looked at.
- Sores that Don’t Heal
A new mole or a sore that won’t heal no matter how much time, air, cleaning, and ointment you apply may be a potential cancer risk.
- Bleeding and Scabbing
Particular attention should be paid to any mole that is lumpy, rough, dry or scaly on the surface, especially if it’s itchy or tender to the touch. Any mole that bleeds or develops a crusty scab needs attention immediately.
Unfortunately, many of our health issues are passed down by family members. In the case of skin cancer or a lot of suspicious moles, a history of the disease can put you at increased risk.
There are several skin lesions that are very common and benign (non-cancerous). Moles are one of them. Skin tags, freckles etc are also part of such lesions. As the years pass, moles usually change slowly, becoming raised and/or changing color. Sometimes, hairs develop in the mole. Some may not change at all, while others may slowly disappear over time. Whatever the case may be, ensure to see your medical doctor or a dermatologist just to be sure your mole isn’t cancerous. Prevention is better(and cheaper) than cure!