Moles are brownish colored growths on the skin, and most adults have between 10 to 40 moles on their bodies. While most moles are not dangerous, there are times that they are, and you should know exactly how to spot a mole that may be cancerous. If you have any moles on your body, there are three important things to know.
Moles Can Naturally Change
Knowing the location of the moles on your body is the first thing to be aware of. By knowing where your moles are, you will be able to periodically check each one to look for signs of problems. You should realize that most moles will change in color over the years, but changing colors doesn't always represent a problem.
Normal changes in moles can happen because of age, sun exposure, and pregnancy, and you may see the following changes:
- Color – a mole may darken over time.
- Hair – a mole may begin growing hair in it over time.
- Disappearing – sometimes moles will fade and disappear over time
Normal moles can be any shade of brown, and they can be oval or round. Normal moles can also be flat and even with the skin, or they can be slightly raised.
If you keep an eye on your moles and notice very few changes, you probably have nothing to worry about. If you see changes that concern you, make an appointment with your doctor.
Signs Of Problems
While moles can naturally change in color and shape, there are certain changes that may be signs of problems. Moles should not hurt, itch, bleed, or grow. These symptoms are common signs of melanoma, a dangerous form of skin cancer, and you should immediately have a doctor examine any moles that have any of these symptoms.
Many skin doctors use a formula to help people understand what changes to look for in moles, and this is called the ABCDE rule. This rule offers five characteristics to look for that could be signs of melanoma:
- A – asymmetry refers to a mole where each half looks different.
- B – border is the outline of a mole, and it should not be notched or irregular in any way.
- C – color simply refers to moles that have multiple colors on them.
- D – diameter should never be larger than the size of a pencil eraser.
- E – evolving represents changes in the mole.
If you know these five rules, you may be able to detect melanoma at its early stages.
Ways You Can Prevent Problems With Moles
Finally, knowing how to protect your skin is vital in the prevention of skin cancer. Skin cancer is not always something you can stop, but with the right steps you can lower your chances of developing this disease. Here are some ways to do this:
- Limit exposure to the sun – the UV rays from the sun are harmful for the skin, and limiting your exposure to these rays can help you prevent getting melanoma. To do this, you should wear sunscreen, clothing that covers your body, and a hat to keep the sun off your head and face.
- Perform self-checks on all moles – knowing your moles is also important because you can visit a doctor faster if you discover any changes or problems.
- Avoid tanning beds – tanning in a tanning bed may increase your chances of developing skin cancer by 74%, and you can reduce your risks by avoiding tanning beds.
By knowing what to look for, you might not ever have to worry about developing skin cancer from the moles on your body. If you experience any symptoms listed here, visit a dermatologist for help. You may need to have some of your moles removed, and this is a procedure that could save your life.