No matter your age, too much sun exposure or just one bad sunburn can cause trouble for your skin. UV exposure from the sun is one of several factors that can trigger the development of new moles.
Applying sunblock, wearing protective clothing and hats are good first steps in protecting your skin from the sun. Once moles are present, it is important check them. Parents, check your children. For teens and young adults, teach them to take a hand mirror and get familiar with the markings on their bodies. Whether a child, mom or grandparent, the signs you look for are the same.
The first five letters of the alphabet, “ABCDE” are a simple way to remember the potential concerning features of a mole on your skin. If you have a mole and you’re wondering if it’s atypical or cancerous, consider the following:
A: Is it asymmetrical? If so, you need to consult your TopLine MD doctor.
B: What does the border look like? If the borders aren’t even, if they are scalloped, notched or jagged that’s a warning sign for a potentially worrisome change.
C: What is the color? If the mole is all one color – whether tan or dark – that is ok. If there are multiple colors within one mole your doctor should take a look at it.
D: What’s the diameter? If the mole is bigger than the eraser on the back of a pencil, then that is bigger than average and a visit to the doctor is in order.
E: Is it evolving? A change such as – becoming slightly larger, or darker, or more scaly – that occurs in a short period of time should be checked by your doctor. In children, moles can evolve over time in proportion to the child’s growth, however if the change in the mole is non-uniform, or occurring in one part of the mole and not in the other, then your dermatologist should evaluate it.
If your doctor is concerned about a particular mole then she will recommend removing it. You should not be scared to have a mole removed if it is necessary. It is a safe and simple procedure that can be done in the office. The skin that is removed is then examined under a microscope by a pathologist to determine whether it is a normal mole, an atypical mole or a type of skin cancer. The diagnosis will guide appropriate treatment.
Checking your skin and moles on a regular basis by performing a skin self–exam is a good habit to get into. If you are concerned or if you see any of the ABCDEs above, contact your dermatologist for a skin check.
Dr. Mercedes Gonzalez is a fellowship-trained pediatric dermatologist who is board-certified in both dermatology and pediatrics. For more information about Dr. Gonzalez, click here! To find a doctor in your area, call 844-967-6348 and our representatives will connect you with a TopLine MD physician.