Moles are caused by skin cells that produce too much pigment. They can range from black through to light brown, and even be skin coloured and can be flat, raised, smooth or rough and some have hairs growing from them and nearly all of us have them.
You’ve got a nice big mole here actually. There’s a good one; let’s have a look at that. And it’s a nice symmetrical shape, the colour is even, it’s not raised its not got any odd looking dark bits in it. That’s a normal mole.
The majority are normal and harmless but in a few cases they can develop into a malignant melanoma which is a type of cancer and melanomas can kill. So it’s vital you know your skin and your moles.
To check your moles use the A-B-C-D rule.
A – Asymmetry, so where the two halves of your moles don’t look the same
B – Border, when the edges of your mole are irregular, blurred or jagged
C – Colour, when the colour of your mole is uneven with more than one shade
And D is diameter, when your mole is wider than 6mm.
If you develop a new mole, or an old one changes size shape of colour, or if a mole bleeds, itches or reddens, you should make an appointment to see your Doctor straight away because if a mole is malignant and not treated early enough then the cancer cells can spread and develop tumours elsewhere in the body.
The most important thing is to protect and look after your skin and your moles. If you have more than 25 moles or have a lot of freckles, have pale skin, are female, been sunburned or sunbathe a lot, then you are most at risk. But everyone should be careful in the sun and you should limit the amount of time you spend in it.
Dr Christian: Have you got sun cream on?
Black-haired girl: Umm not today no
Dr Christian: Have long have you been here for?
Black-haired girl: About an hour and a half
Blonde girl: Yeah
Dr Christian: About an hour and a half?
Blonde and black-haired girl: Yeah
Dr Christian: Hottest time of the day and you’ve got no sun cream on? Look what I’ve got
Blonde girl: Oh
Dr Christian: This is a factor 30 and this is about the right sort of factor for this time of day
Blonde girl: 30!
Dr Christian: 30. And I’m damn well going to put it on you because I’m not happy about this OK?
Blonde girl: You do that
Keep out of the sun between 11am and 3pm always, always use a high factor sun cream (a minimum of SPF 15) and reapply it regularly. Better still, cover up, wear sunglasses and a hat and keep babies and children out of the sun.
Don’t assume that because it’s cloudy or you’re travelling in a car you cannot burn because you can. More people die of skin cancer in the UK than in Australia and it’s the second most common cancer for those aged 20 – 39. So if you want a tan, get it out of a bottle.
How To Check Your Skin
Most of us have at least a few moles on our body, but many people are completely covered by them. Although very few moles are problematic, it’s important to be aware of any changes in your moles. Dr Jessen’s guide explains all you need to know about what to look out for, as well as providing advice on how to protect your skin and moles.
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