Everyone has moles. Most are harmless, but some can be dangerous to your health. That’s why it’s important to keep an eye on them for signs of skin cancer. Here’s how to tell when you should see your dermatologist about a suspicious-looking mole.
Know Your ABCDEs
The sooner you begin treatment for cancerous skin growths, the better your prognosis. It all starts with knowing your ABCDEs! Here are some important signs of skin cancer to watch out for:
- Asymmetry: Moles are typically small and circular. A mole that is irregularly shaped might be pre-cancerous.
- Border: A mole with a solid, definitive edge is no cause for concern. However, a mole with ragged or uneven borders demands a look from your dermatologist.
- Color: Harmless moles are a single, brownish color. If you have any multicolored moles or those that appear black, red, white, or even blue, you should call your dermatologist.
- Diameter: Moles with a diameter smaller than a pencil eraser are unlikely to be cancerous. Large moles, on the other hand, could be hazardous to your health. Have these moles evaluated for your peace of mind.
- Evolution: Moles can change and develop any of the above characteristics. That’s why you should conduct a self-exam for signs of dangerous moles once a month.
Watch Out for These Moles
Some moles protrude over time, becoming skin tags in the process. This is not a sign of skin cancer. Still, in addition to knowing your ABCDEs, you should watch out for these specific types of moles that have the potential to be cancerous:
- New moles: No, not all new moles are dangerous, but keep an eye on any that develop after age 20. New moles in places with high sun exposure—such as your head, face, chest, arms, and back of the hands—are especially worrying.
- Bothersome moles: Any moles that itch, bleed, or cause pain should be evaluated by a dermatologist.
- Atypical moles: These are the types of moles that showcase the ABCDEs of skin cancer. They may run in your family and increase your risk of developing skin cancer.
Why Visit a Dermatologist About a Mole?
Rest assured that most moles are harmless and do not need to be removed—but you won’t know for sure without visiting a dermatologist. A quick appointment, and possibly a biopsy, is all it takes to rule out or confirm cancer.
If a mole is found to be cancerous, you can act quickly to remove it in its earliest stage, when it’s most treatable. Most times, removing a mole is relatively simple and involves numbing the treatment area, shaving or cutting the mole off, and closing the area with one or two stitches.
Arlington Dermatology can examine, diagnose, and remove any pre-cancerous or cancerous growths you find on your skin. Contact us today at (847) 725-0824 to ask questions or set an appointment at our clinic in Rolling Meadows, IL.