Dr Christian: 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. They can be flat, raised, smooth or rough and some have hairs growing from them. 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 ABCD rule:
A: Asymmetry is 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.
D: D is diameter. When your mole is wider than 6mm.
If you develop a new mole or an old one changes size, shape or 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 or 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 sun bathe 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. 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 your travelling in a car you cannot burn. More people die of skin cancer in the UK than in Australia and it’s the second most common cancer for those aged between 20 and 39. So, if you want a tan, get it out of a bottle.
Quick Health Advice: Moles
You might not believe it, with our experience of the great British weather, but more people die of skin cancer in the UK than in Australia. In this exclusive guide, Dr Jessen stresses the importance of being familiar with our skin and any moles we might have, and provides simple and effective ways to check ourselves. He also advises on the safest way to enjoy the sun and dispels some myths along the way. You can’t catch the sun on a cloudy day? Think again…
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