For men and women alike, a collection of moles across the surface of the skin is often commonplace. Over time, moles tend to become more prevalent, particularly for those with fair skin. Extended time in the sun or exposed to UV rays can cause both freckles and moles to show up more vividly. While the majority of moles tend to be harmless, it’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms associated with moles that could indicate a need for further medical review or intervention.
Moles are often the first visible sign linked to the development of melanoma in patients as well as other forms of dangerous and potentially life-threatening skin cancer. A mole that stays the same over a long period of time is generally not a cause for concern. Where individuals need to pay particular attention is when a mole that has long been constant suddenly begins to change. Moles that being to itch, grow in size, bleed or change in color or texture are of particular concern when it comes to the development of skin cancer.
Because moles are closely linked to skin cancer, it’s important to take time to do a mole check across the entire surface of the skin at least once every few months. This may need to be more frequent for those individuals who are prone to moles. Noticing any changes early on is key to detecting skin cancer quickly and fighting it with treatment before it has a chance to spread.
Doing a regular self-exam to keep track of existing moles that may have changed and to recognize new moles that have appeared is extremely important but can take some getting used to. One of the biggest hurdles in doing a self-check for moles is visibility. Certain areas of the body are more difficult to see than others. In this case, using a mirror to access hidden areas is a great strategy for performing a thorough check.
The best time to perform a mole check is after a bath or shower. It’s often easier to identify discoloration or changes when the skin is wet. Using a full-length mirror to perform a mole check is helpful in being able to get a comprehensive look at moles across a larger portion of the body. A hand-held mirror comes in handy for looking at more difficult to notice areas such as the back of the knees. While it’s important to pay special attention to areas that are frequently exposed to sun, lesser thought of areas such as between the toes and the soles of the feet are just as susceptible to the development of moles or skin cancer.
Dermatologists frequently recommend learning the ABCDE’s when it comes to mole changes that could be concerning. ‘A’ is for a mole that presents with Asymmetry. Any mole that has one half presenting very differently from the other should be noted as a potential concern. ‘B’ is for a mole with an irregular border. It’s important to note moles that have ragged or blurred edges. ‘C’ is for a mole with contrasting colors. Moles that present in shades of tan, brown, black or blue should be looked at by a trained professional. ‘D’ is for the diameter of a mole. Any mole presenting with a diameter larger than 6mm is a potential for concern. Finally, ‘E’ is for a mole that appears elevated. Any mole that is raised away from the skin requires further medical examination. Understanding and using these ABCDE’s to evaluate moles is a great way to make sure a self-examination is a complete check.
When you’re concerned about a mole that may need to be evaluated or are interested in scheduling annual check-ups to make sure to stay on top of overall skin health, Dr. Wright and his team at the St. Louis Laser Lipo and Vein Center are here to help. We’re happy to provide our patients with a full list of mole check services ranging from evaluations to treatment options in the event skin cancer is diagnosed. The first step in establishing care at our clinic is to schedule an initial consultation. Dr. Wright makes sure to take the time needed to get to know each and every patient, answer questions and listen to concerns before moving forward with a personalized treatment plan.
Whether you’re prone to moles, have had skin cancer or are looking for a place to keep up with preventative care, Dr. Wright and his team at the St. Louis Laser Lipo and Vein Center are happy to welcome you to our family. Contact us today to learn more about our mole check services as well as the many other cosmetic and skincare solutions we’re proud to provide.