Moles occur on the skin when cells in the skin cluster together, rather than spreading across the skin. These specific cells (melanocytes) make the pigment on the skin that gives it its colour. As these cells build up, they cause the area the mole is growing in to darken. This also occurs during and after exposure to the sun during adolescence and often during pregnancy.
Mole checking is slightly more complicated than we often think. Some moles might appear benign or even non-benign on the surface, but when we investigate further, they are the opposite. That’s why mole checking both personally and through a clinical dermatologist is key for keeping up to date with your moles.
Unfortunately, melanoma skin cancer causes up to 2,500 fatalities a year, with 100,000 new cases per year in the UK alone. It’s the 5th most diagnosed type of cancer and something not to be taken lightly. Factors contributing to skin cancer vary from skin types through to sun damage and also the types of moles that develop on your skin over time.
MOLE ATTRIBUTES YOU NEED TO LOOK OUT FOR
In recent articles, we have discussed the various types of moles that can appear on your skin and various signs within your mole’s appearance you need to look out for in case your moles are becoming dangerous.
The main types of moles you’ll see are:
These are moles developed between the ages of 10-40. These moles develop throughout adolescence and your adult life. They can vary in colour and size, around 5mm in diameter.
Slightly rarer, Congenital Nevi are moles that are present at birth and are a birthmark. Unfortunately, these are moles that are more likely to develop into skin cancer so they need to be monitored carefully.
Dysplastic Nevi are larger moles and have irregular shaping. Unfortunately, they’re more likely to develop melanoma skin cancer.
When it comes to self-checking your moles before visiting a dermatologist, you need to know your ABCDE’s. These are the specific attributes of a mole that you can monitor to know if your mole might be cancerous and requires further checking by a dermatologist.
The ABCDE’s are:
A is for Asymmetry
Moles should be symmetrical and a common sign of melanoma is an asymmetrical mole.
B is for Mole Border
If your mole has uneven borders then it could be malignant.
C is for Colour
If a single mole contains multiple colours within it when it could be a cause for concern.
D is for Diameter
Malignant moles tend to be larger than benign moles.
E is for Evolution
If Your mole is changing over time in shape, size or colours then it may be cancerous.
TIPS FOR CHECKING YOUR MOLES
When self-checking your moles, there are key tips to consider, based on the ABCDE’s. Self mole checking should include:
Checking for New Moles
Have you seen the mole before? Could it be considered new? If so, you’ll need to take a picture of the mole at the time of seeing it and keep checking this mole over a period of time to make sure it isn’t changing in shape, size, colour or asymmetry. If it does, you’ll need to contact a mole checking dermatologist to investigate this further.
Have Your Moles Changed
Checking if your moles have changed according to the ABCDE chart is the most important thing for identifying potentially harmful moles. Should your moles change in appearance, you should visit a specialist to take a look at your moles. Even if the result of the mole checking is fine, your dermatologist can map your moles so that they can be continued to be monitored over time and avoid the development of malignant melanoma.
If your moles begin to irritate and become itchy, firstly, do not scratch them. This could be a sign that melanoma has developed and scratching that causes bleeding is likely to cause further damage to your mole and the skin.
CHECKING YOUR MOLES OVER TIME
The best way to check your moles over time is through mole mapping. As mentioned earlier, dermatologists typically use mole mapping as part of the mole checking process to monitor mole development over a specific period.
You can also do this too, by taking your own pictures. However, this can cause inaccuracies due to changes in camera angles, lighting and distance from the camera if you do this yourself, which is why it’s often more suitable to get mole mapping done professionally.
HOW TO LOOK AFTER YOUR MOLES
Using Sun Cream
In theory, you should wear sunscreen every day. Typically, factor 50 is recommended as this is one of the strongest PH protectors for the skin.
We know that this is not something that is done. However, during the summer months, you must wear sunscreen daily to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
Additionally, avoid tanning oils. Tanning oils are used to speed up the process of skin pigmentation becoming darker by lowering the refractive index of your skin. This allows harmful UV rays to penetrate your skin on a deeper level, and while this is causing your skin to tan, it’s also increasing the harm done to your skin.
Aloe Vera Gel
A form of hydration and used for damaged skin, aloe vera gel helps cool the skin after damage from the sun. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce the negative effects of sunburn. This rejuvenates the protective layer of the skin by helping it to retain moisture while supplying the skin with needed minerals to help to heal.
There are many more benefits of applying aloe vera gel to the skin, which includes hydration etc. It’s worth researching aloe vera to see how you can benefit from its effects on your skin.
Hydration is Key
Staying hydrated may not have a direct impact on your moles specifically, but any way to keep your skin hydrated and increase antioxidants in the skin is a good thing. Hydration helps with preventing and also decreasing the development of damage to cells caused by free radicals.
MORE INFORMATION ON MOLE CHECKING AND DERMATOLOGY
WHY CHOOSE EVERYTHING SKIN CLINIC?
At Everything Skin Clinic™, we have a team of highly trained Consultant dermatologists, who have completed specialist training in Dermatology and are on the specialist register of the General Medical Council. All our consultants hold substantive contracts with the best Dermatology centres in leading NHS hospitals. Therefore, you can be certain of the highest quality private care.
We offer a range of treatments and can offer one, or a combination of treatments to achieve the best results. Unlike many other clinics, we can offer diagnosis and treatment all under one roof by expert consultant dermatologist, so you know you’ll be in safe hands.
Monday: 9:00am - 8:00pm
Tuesday: 10:00am - 8:00pm
Wednesday: 10:00am - 8:00pm
Thursday: 9:00am - 7:00pm
Friday: 10:00am - 4:00pm
Alternate Saturdays: 10:00am - 4:00pm
MAKE AN ENQUIRY
Please fill in this form and one of our team will be in touch to arrange a consultation with one of our expert dermatologists.