Moles helped make celebs like Marilyn Monroe and Cindy Crawford famous. Their moles were sexy little perfectly-shaped beauty marks that everyone wanted to have. And did by picking up the press-on variety at the neighborhood beauty supply store.
Unfortunately, though, a mole isn’t just another beauty accessory; it can also be the sign of skin cancer.
One of my best friends has been having trouble with her moles for years, constantly getting them removed. After hearing about her latest round of whack-a-mole, I began to panic; I had never even thought to have my moles looked at! What if they were dangerous? What if I only had days left to live?!
Shaking, I dialed my dermatologist and made an appointment to get everything checked out. And good thing I did! I thought I only had a couple of moles but it turns out I was wrong. Unbeknownst to me, moles aren’t only the raised brown marks on your skin – they can also look just like freckles.
In fact, moles can be raised, flat, large, small, dark, or light, and you may not even know that you have some. And all of them – even those moles that have never seen the sun (yes, like that one on your booty) – can be cancerous, so it’s important to get them checked out by a professional. My dermatologist recommended that everyone performs a monthly mole self-check. This will not only allow you to discover any new moles that may be popping up, but to follow the ones you already have. When moles start changing in any way, it could be a sign of a problem.
Here’s what to look for when you do your check, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. If you discover any of the following you should give your Derm a call and have him or her take a look.
The ABCDE’s of Moles:
A: Asymmetry – When the mole is not a consistent shape; when one half of the mole is significantly different from the other half.
B: Border – When the edges of the mole are ragged, blurred, or irregular.
C: Color – If the mole is different colors, or if it contains tones of tan, brown, black, red, white or blue.
D: Diameter – When the diameter of the mole is larger than 6mm (about the size of a pencil eraser).
E: Evolving – If the mole experiences any change over time it could be the sign of a problem. This is why it’s important to keep an eye on the moles often so you will be able to notice differences over time.
Simple use of sunscreen can help prevent a mole from becoming cancerous. If a mole is found to be suspicious, a dermatologist will likely perform a biopsy to test if the mole is actually cancerous or if it is benign (safe). The doctor will then remove the mole if it is found to be cancerous.
It’s better to be safe than sorry with moles, so protect them, check them, and have a professional do the same.