Why You Shouldn’t Ignore an Unusual Mole

Why You Shouldn’t Ignore an Unusual Mole

First off, you should always seek medical attention if you notice unusual changes with your body, whether it’s a lump, bump, or strange new symptom. Not only can a professional detect serious health problems early, but expert guidance can give you peace of mind. And the same is true when it comes to your skin.

At Warrenton Dermatology & Skin Therapy Center in Warrenton, Virginia, Juan-Carlos Caballero, MD, specializes in dermatological health, including early skin cancer detection. In this blog, Dr. Caballero shares insights into what makes a mole “unusual” and why it shouldn’t be ignored.

What makes a mole “normal”?

Have you ever found yourself checking your moles without knowing exactly what to look for? You’re not alone. They can vary in color, shape, size, and location, and most adults have anywhere from 10-40 moles. So, what makes a mole normal?

Whether you have a beauty spot or an unloved hairy growth, they typically form in response to sun exposure. However, you can also have moles from birth. These areas on your body consist of clusters of melanocytes. These pigment-producing cells contain the melanin that causes them to appear more brown than your surrounding skin.

Moles can look very different, so it can seem overwhelming trying to spot the problematic ones. After all, some healthy moles are smooth or flat, while others are bumpy, protruding, and even have hair. However, healthy moles typically have two things in common: clearly defined edges and a round or oval shape.

Moles can also change over time, especially in response to hormonal fluctuations. In fact, going through puberty can increase their number, pregnancy can darken them, and they can even diminish in old age.

Since moles are susceptible to so many changes, it’s essential to check your skin regularly and see a doctor when something seems unusual.

What’s the best way to detect cancerous moles?

Skin changes, such as spots or atypical moles, can indicate skin cancer, including the deadliest form, melanoma. 

In the United States, 1 in 5 get skin cancer by age 70, and more than 2 people die each hour from the condition. However, detecting melanoma early can provide 5-year survival rates of 99%. Learning to spot a problem can help you get the treatment you need as soon as possible, which is the key to surviving melanoma.

Check regularly

Dr. Caballero recommends checking your skin once a month and having professional screenings annually. However, if you have a personal or family history of melanoma, Dr. Caballero often suggests more frequent dermatology visits to ensure early detection.

Check all of your skin

When checking your skin, look at your entire body in a full-length mirror and use a hand mirror for hard-to-see places, such as your back. And don’t forget your groin, the bottoms of your feet, and in between your toes — you can get skin cancer in those areas, too.

First, become familiar with the moles on your body and their location. You can even document their size, shape, and location to make it easier by using the American Academy of Dermatology Association’s body mole map.

Check using the ABCDE method

Then, Dr. Caballero suggests learning the ABCDEs of melanoma. These letters outline unusual mole characteristics, such as: 

Since unusual moles can vary significantly from person to person, the best way to spot a problem is to become familiar with your own skin. That way, you can see a professional as soon as you notice anything out of the ordinary.

Have you noticed an unusual mole or other skin changes? Don’t wait to schedule an appointment. To learn more, call 540-212-7081 or book an appointment online with Warrenton Dermatology & Skin Therapy Center today.

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