Conducting a simple skin mole check on your skin at least once every month is the perfect way to help you to notice any changes that might be happening and to have them checked out at an early stage. Your skin mole check should be based on the same checks that your doctor would carry out but can be helped along by the use of photos and online apps.
Your doctor will ask you lots of questions about your family history and will asses your skin type – whether you burn easily and how long you spend in the sun. This will all help to inform them on how to conduct your skin mole check. Your risk factors can be just as important as the moles themselves.
These are our recommendations for conducting your skin mole check.
- Document all of the moles that you currently have on your body. You can do this using an app designed for mapping the moles and by taking photos of any that you might have concerns about – especially new ones. Then compare these photos to your current moles to identify any changes over time.
- Take note of how many moles you have on your skin. You are at a higher risk of melanoma if you have a high number of moles (usually more than 100 across your entire body).
- Use the ABCDE method of checking your moles. This refers to Asymmetry, Borders, Colour, Diameter and Evolving. Essentially, your moles should be of a standard shape, with smooth borders, one uniform colour, small and not changing.
- Always take pictures of any new mole that comes up on your skin and watch it carefully to see how it changes.
- Check moles to see if they have become crusty, itchy or are bleeding.
- Your mole check should include checking for moles that have grown upwards and are now protruding higher above your skin than they used to.
- Be aware that nodular melanomas may not follow these signs and will present as smooth lumps that grow downwards. Keep an eye out for these too.
If you notice any of these things you should make a visit to your doctor and ask them to double check your findings. They are likely to carry out similar skin mole checks but their many years of experience will allow them to see things we may not notice. They may then send you to a dermatologist or ask you to continue checking and to return if anything changes.