Melanoma that looks like a freckle

Melanoma is a scary disease because it can often look quite similar to harmless-looking blemishes, like a mole or a freckle. According to DermNet New Zealand, about 75% of melanomas are new spots that appear in otherwise normal-looking skin. The rest will from an existing mole or spot. The key to early detection is knowing the warning signs that distinguish the harmless from the dangerous with freckles and moles.
melanoma freckle

Table of Contents

What’s a freckle?

A freckle is a small brown spot that forms on the skin as a result of genetics and UV exposure. These are benign spots that are more common in fair-skinned individuals. They require no treatment but they are usually a sign that you should be more diligent about wearing sunscreen and spend more time away from the sun. People who freckle easily are more likely to develop skin cancer.

Example pictures of melanoma

When a freckle is something to worry about

So how can you tell when a freckle is something more than just a freckle? Some freckles can look normal but can potentially be a melanoma freckle. Most melanomas usually share a few tell-tale warning signs.

What is Skin Cancer?

Inspect your freckles and moles

It is important to inspect your freckles and moles for the following indicators of melanoma, also known as the ABCDE melanoma self-check method:

The ABCDE checklist:

Professionals often use this helpful checklist when advising patients on what to look for in relation to melanoma detection.

  • Asymmetrical – Melanomas are distinctly asymmetrical
  • Border – melanomas have uneven borders
  • Colours – melanomas will contain at least two distinct colours
  • Diameter – melanomas are bigger than ¼ inch across
  • Enlargement – melanomas grow in size over time

Other melanoma types

It’s important to note that not all melanomas will follow the ABCDE method. Nodular melanoma will grow vertically into the skin and has its own characteristics to be aware of and there are also some other types of melanoma that exhibit atypical symptoms. While most freckles are harmless, be sure to check your body from head-to-toe every month to notice any changes or new growths that have occurred. At the first sign of suspicion, have your freckle, blemish or mole checked out by your doctor or dermatologist to be sure it’s okay.

What does a normal mole look like?

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