Your mole could be a unique beauty mark, an unsightly growth…or a major health concern. How can you tell the difference? First, see a medical professional, such as a dermatologist or your primary care physician.
First, you should always make an appointment to see a medical professional. But, there are a few steps you can take on your own. You should always evaluate your moles for signs of cancer risk and note any changes to your skin. New moles, existing moles that change, or any new skin abnormality should be tracked and shown to your medical provider.
Common moles are usually smaller than the width of a pencil eraser, or about 0.25 inch in diameter. A common mole is either round or oval and has a smooth surface. Often common moles are dome-shaped on top, but they may be flat to the skin surrounding them. This type of mole is pink, tan or a shade of brown from a very light color to a very dark brown or black color.
If you have a mole that changes color, it may be developing into melanoma. Moles with two different colors denote a change that needs to be seen by a doctor immediately. If a mole changes in size by growing bigger or smaller and into an uneven shape that is not circular or oval, it is time for a checkup.
Moles may change in height by getting taller from the skin or have a scaly texture. These changes signify the need for professional help. When moles become very hard or feel as they have lumps in them, they could be turning into melanoma. Consult with a physician if your moles are very itchy or they ooze fluid or start to bleed.
Any change in a common mole means you should see a doctor to make certain that you are not developing skin cancer. Melanoma is a serious skin cancer that, if left untreated, can spread to your lungs, bones, liver and brain. Measuring and observing your common moles at least once a month will keep you advised of the changes so you can visit a doctor at the first sign of change.
Bottom line is that any mole that looks irregular should be taken seriously, and you should consult with your dermatology provider. Annual skin checks are a great way to make sure that ‘hidden’ moles on your back and other hard to see places are not problematic.
If you have any moles or skin abnormalities that concern you, please contact us for an appointment.
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